Nearly a month after an unnamed Institute of American Indian Arts student made public allegations of being sexually assaulted by a school employee, the District Attorney’s Office in Santa Fe said it is reviewing the case.
In May, a detailed, explicit description of the alleged April 9 sexual assault by a male staffer appeared in flyers posted on campus and on social media, prompting outrage from students, the school’s alumni council and a Pueblo women’s activist group. The flyers also alleged a pattern of harassment and inappropriate messages from a second male employee.
IAIA President Robert Martin at the time issued a campuswide statement announcing an investigation into the allegations and saying law enforcement had been contacted; the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office confirmed an investigation but would not comment further.
This week, neither the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office nor the District Attorney’s Office offered details.
“The investigators have forwarded their case to the district attorney for review, to determine if there will be any charges filed,” sheriff’s office spokesman Juan Ríos said Tuesday. “The case remains open; no one has been charged or arrested.”
“They brought the case to us today and it is being reviewed,” District Attorney’s Office spokesman James Hallinan said Tuesday.
IAIA spokesman Eric Davis also declined to comment further, saying the school was waiting for reports from law enforcement. Davis also would not say whether the accused men were still employed by the school.
Some IAIA students and alumni have claimed school leadership failed to adequately address their concerns about sexual misconduct on campus. Students participated in a mass walkout of classes the day after the president’s announcement.
The accuser wrote in the May flyer that she did not go to school officials after the alleged sexual assault because she had previously voiced concerns to officials about safety on campus and was brushed off.
At a powwow celebration at IAIA the day after The New Mexican first reported on the allegations, dances and singing were paused so speakers could address their concerns.
“Indigenous women have a voice, and please don’t ever be afraid to use it,” student Kylei Big Bow, 19, told the crowd at the May 11 event. “My soul has been broken for my sisters.” She added that it was “important that we shed light on this.”
High rates of violence against Native American and indigenous women continue to raise serious concerns in the community.
On Saturday, two organizations, Resolve and Three Sisters Collective, plan to host an event offering self-defense education for Native American women and gender-nonconforming people — those who do not identify as a single gender — ages 13 and over.
“The epidemic of violence against Native women is alarming, and something that needs more attention and resources,” Resolve Executive Director Alena Schraim said in a news release. “We at Resolve are thrilled to be able to support Native communities with concrete skills to prevent violence in their own lives as well as heal from trauma.”
The free event is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Santa Fe Indian Center, 1420 Cerrillos Road. To register, call 505-660-4210.