Opening statements begin in trial of former APS teacher accused of sexually abusing students

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*WARNING: Viewers may find the following details disturbing.*

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – From the classroom to the courtroom, former APS teacher Danny Aldaz sat in front of a judge Tuesday.

The former teacher is facing 32 charges all stemming from accusations that he sexually assaulted five young girls while teaching at Valle Vista Elementary.

“During that school year the defendant would send — into a closet in the classroom. It was in that closet that the defendant committed the crime of criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13,” said Bernalillo District Attorney Sam Bregman. 

KOB’s 4 Investigates first showed you pictures of this closet in Aldez’s classroom when these allegations came out in 2021.

Investigators say Aldaz created the space by blocking off a hallway with a filing cabinet and a red blanket.

The state told the jury they will hear the details of what happened in that closet directly from one of the girls who say they were assaulted when she was only 7 years old. 

“Instead of being with her classmates in second grade during class — will tell you what the defendant did to her when he ordered her into the closet,” Bregman said. 

But Aldaz’s defense attorney told the jury this is a case of he said, she said.

“You are going to hear various discrepancies in —’s story. You are going to hear her testify about things that happened that other accounts will tell you they didn’t happen,” said Alexandra Jones, defense attorney. 

The defense pointed out some of the other young girls didn’t report the abuse for three years, meaning there is little – if any – physical evidence of assault.

“What you won’t hear in this trial is any eyewitnesses who can tell you they saw Mr. Aldaz put a hand down —’s pants or make her touch him. You won’t have any DNA evidence, no photographic evidence of anything that corroborates abuse,” said Jones. 

The trial is scheduled to last for the next three days.