TIERRA AMARILLA — A state district judge in Rio Arriba County on Tuesday scheduled a March trial for a man accused of raping a 13-year-old girl.
Andrew Sandoval, 37, is charged with 19 felonies including eight counts of criminal sexual contact with a minor, six counts of criminal sexual penetration, three counts of contributing to delinquency, one count of electronic child solicitation and one count of tampering with evidence. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of enticement of a child.
An October search warrant said the case stemmed from an investigation into a video on social media showing Sandoval naked in his bathroom, while the underage girl rubbed icing over his body. In the warrant for Sandoval’s DNA, another girl told a forensic interviewer she was inappropriately touched on her legs, buttocks and genital area and that Sandoval was often naked in front of her group of friends when they stayed at his house.
Child witnesses told police Sandoval was “in a relationship” with the 13-year-old because of posts on social media about her that called the girl pet names and contained heart emoji.
He was arrested in April on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, criminal sexual contact and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and was indicted in June on 20 charges in the case.
District Judge Jason Lidyard ruled in a May hearing that Sandoval was to be held in custody until trial.
In a separate case, Sandoval pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest, and prosecutors dropped more than 20 felony counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, saying there was no longer evidence to prove his guilt.
Sandoval was arrested during a party in March at his Española home. According to police reports, officers arrested him after they received reports of teenagers drinking alcohol there.
Beer cans littered the living room, reports said, and a teenage girl was passed out and required emergency transport.
Police said Sandoval identified himself as the owner of the house, refused to put his hands behind his back and “bumped” an officer with his shoulder, and the officer “took him down.” Another officer said Sandoval kicked at police from the ground.
On Tuesday, Lidyard asked prosecutors for a more detailed explanation of their decision to drop the felony charges.
Ihsan Uddin Ahmed from the District Attorney’s Office said pretrial interviews found Sandoval did not buy alcohol for the minors at the party. It was “a friend of Mr. Sandoval’s son.”
Lidyard accepted the plea but said he was sorry to see the grand jury indictment on 22 felony counts would stay on Sandoval’s record in a statement to the court.
“That’s something that will never go away,” the judge said. “That’s the harmful effect of charging decisions.”