Former APD officer accused of grooming teen appears in court

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Prosecutors want former Albuquerque Police Department officer Josh DeLeon held in jail until trial. They say he’s a danger to the community.

DeLeon is accused of grooming a 13-year-old girl and trying to start a sexual relationship with her. He is charged with child solicitation, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and receiving public money for service not rendered.

Prosecutor: In between March 2 and March 9, can you estimate how many text messages were exchanged between the two?

Detective Kirk Brown: Approximately over 250 text messages.

In a virtual hearing Thursday, Kirk Brown with APD testified against DeLeon.

Prosecutor: Did he admit that he wanted a physical relationship with her?

Detective Kirk Brown: He did.

Prosecutor: Did he admit that he wanted to take things further?

Detective Kirk Brown: He did.

DeLeon reportedly first met the girl in early February while responding to a call. She was reportedly contemplating suicide because of bullying at school.

DeLeon started texting her, and in at least one instance, reportedly attempted to kiss her.

Detective Kirk Brown: She advised that he came up to her apartment and tried to kiss her, and that she protected herself by covering her face with a folder.

DeLeon’s defense tried to cast doubt on the testimony presented Thursday. The hearing is set to continue Friday morning at 9 a.m.

APD Chief Harold Medina provided the following statement:

These allegations portray a police officer who engaged in a predatory effort to lure a 13-year-old girl into a secret relationship with him. This kind of behavior is beyond disturbing, and it is a disservice to the department and our profession. I am disgusted by the fact that an officer would prey on a child who was experiencing a crisis and relied on him for help during that crisis.

We relieved the officer from duty and immediately started a criminal investigation when we learned of the allegations. I appreciate the detectives who worked on this troubling case, and the Attorney General’s Office for moving forward with the prosecution.

While this case is adjudicated in the courts, we will change APD policies to make it clear we will not tolerate inappropriate contact between officers and citizens they encounter during calls for service.