A former Santa Fe High School Junior ROTC instructor is facing a sexual assault charge following allegations by female students who participated in the program last year.
According to an affidavit for an arrest warrant filed Tuesday in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court, 55-year-old Dale Mayes of Rio Rancho, the former marksmanship coach for Santa Fe High’s 2018 national champion Navy Junior ROTC team, is accused of grabbing the breast of an 18-year-old student and inappropriately touching at least two younger teen girls in the program.
Though the affidavit cites three accusers and several alleged incidents, it says Mayes now faces a single count of criminal sexual contact of a minor under 18 in an April incident in which he is accused of touching a girl while she was trying on an ROTC uniform over other clothing in a supply room on campus.
“[Mayes] would make comments about my body, then while trying on a uniform, he touched my butt,” the girl said in an interview with investigators, according to the affidavit. Mayes also questioned the girl about things she would be willing to do sexually, she told police.
Online court and jail records did not indicate Mayes, a retired Navy master chief, had been arrested as of Wednesday evening.
Santa Fe Police Department spokesman Greg Gurulé said he could not confirm Wednesday whether Mayes had been arrested. Another agency could be handling the warrant, he said, because Mayes has a Rio Rancho address.
A Rio Rancho police spokesman said that department was not aware of the warrant and was not actively searching for Mayes.
Santa Fe Public Schools said in a statement Wednesday the district learned of the allegations against Mayes on May 3, a Friday, and placed him on administrative leave with pay the following Monday. The statement said Mayes, in his fifth year with the ROTC program, resigned following an internal investigation of the allegations, but the statement did not specify when the investigation concluded.
“Upon being made aware of the allegations, SFPS promptly contacted the parents of all impacted students,” the statement said. “Counselors began discussions with impacted students. In addition, SFPS reported the misconduct to the Public Education Department, and national JROTC certifying authorities — informing them of the instructor’s misconduct.”
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, the Santa Fe police investigation into the sexual assault allegations began May 6, when Santa Fe High Dean of Students Stan Mascarenas provided Officer Daniel Quintana with a written statement from the 18-year-old student who accused Mayes of taking her into a supply closet and touching her breast.
The teen said Mayes, described as 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, frequently warned her that if she shot poorly during marksmanship practice or competition, he would “get the flyer” — referring to his belt.
In an interview with Quintana, the affidavit says, the teen said Mayes took her into the ROTC program’s armory some time in January or February, grabbed her by the shoulders, pushed her until she was leaning over a table and asked if she was “ready to receive the flyer.”
When she asked Mayes to stop, the teen said, Mayes told her he was joking and asked her to “pinky promise” not to tell anyone about the incident, according to the affidavit.
On April 26, the student told police, Mayes took her into a supply closet and told her, “I owe you one.” He then put his arm over the student’s neck and grabbed her breast, she alleged.
Mascarenas told investigators there is no video surveillance of the supply room where the student said the incident occurred.
According to the affidavit, the 18-year-old told a forensic interviewer she did not want to pursue charges.
The charge Mayes faces stems from allegations by another girl in the Junior ROTC program who said that when she needed a new uniform, Mayes brought her into a supply closet, helped her put on a uniform over her clothing and touched her buttocks.
A third girl told investigators Mayes also had taken her into into the supply closet to get her a new uniform and had run his hand across her stomach and lower back. She alleged Mayes often would place his hands on girls’ hips to adjust their shooting stances.
According to the affidavit, Mayes said in a statement to Santa Fe High administrators that he gave hugs to his marksmanship girls and boys at competitions for moral support.
In March 2018, four students in the ROTC program won a marksmanship competition at the All-Service National JROTC Championship, beating out 25 other teams from across the country. It was the group’s second big win after taking top honors a month earlier at the Navy National JROTC Championship.
“I could be many places in the world,” Mayes told The New Mexican at the time, “but this is where I want to be, with these kids.”