A Santa Fe artist accused of raping a friend’s 10-year-old daughter pleaded no contest to reduced charges, including child abuse, and was sentenced to five years of probation as part of a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office.

Painter and sculptor Michael Gurule, 62, maintained his innocence at his sentencing hearing Monday, saying he only agreed to the deal to spare himself and the child from a jury trial.

“I never signed up for this,” Gurule said.

He told the court he never intended to be the child’s “nanny” but wanted to help her mother, who asked him to watch the girl at their home.

“I’m horrified as well that she’s claiming this,” he said.

Gurule had been charged with first-degree criminal sexual penetration of a child, third-degree criminal sexual contact with a minor, child abuse, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and enticement of a child in 2018.

He was a family friend and often watched the girl while her single mother worked, a police report states.

The girl’s mother told investigators she started noticing a change in her daughter’s behavior and that her typically good grades began slipping.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, when the woman asked her daughter what was wrong, the girl said Gurule had been touching her inappropriately.

The child drew images of Gurule sexually assaulting her and included dialogue indicating he refused to stop despite her pleas, reports state. Her mother told police her daughter wrote: “He says don’t tell anyone or else.”

When asked by state district Judge Jason Lidyard why he’d agreed to plead no contest to child abuse, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and enticement of a child if he wasn’t guilty of those crimes, Gurule said he had lost business and was unable to teach his spin classes since the allegations, and he wanted to end the ordeal.

The terms of his agreement with prosecutors guaranteed Gurule a sentence of seven years minus one day, all suspended in favor of five years of probation. He’ll also have to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

The only discretion the deal allowed Lidyard at sentencing was whether to grant Gurule’s request for a conditional discharge, meaning his record would not reflect a felony conviction if he successfully completed probation.

The child abuse count is a third-degree felony. The counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child are fourth-degree felonies, and the enticement charge is a misdemeanor.

Gurule’s attorney, Dan Marlowe, argued the case was flawed.

The child’s mother never turned over requested records from the girl’s mental health care provider, he said, and the state never provided a detailed statement of the girl’s allegations.

When the judge asked Marlowe why he agreed to the deal if there were so many issues, the attorney said ending the case with a plea before the “trauma” of a trial was the right thing for everyone.

Prosecutor Haley Murphy argued against Gurule receiving a conditional discharge, saying the conviction on his record would ensure he would be marked as a felon and suffer the loss of privileges such as voting and firearm ownership, like other felons.

She noted the conviction also could lead to enhanced sentencing if Gurule committed any crimes in the future.

“As you are aware,” Murphy said to the judge, “this plea is a pretty big deviation from the initial charges, to put it mildly.

“Justice can sometimes look a little different than where the state would like it to go,” Murphy added.

She said the state agreed to the plea deal after multiple discussions with the girl and her mother about how to protect the child’s mental health.

The girl and her mother both spoke during the video hearing, asking Lidyard not to grant Gurule a conditional discharge.

The girl, now 13, referred to the day Gurule attacked her as “the day I died,” and said the following three years were a blur as she struggled to block from her mind what he’d done to her.

“My body was frozen when this happened,” she said, adding she’d been worried and scared and didn’t know what to do.

“I experienced things no one should have to experience,” she said. “… I don’t think I’ll ever be the same person as I was before this.”

Lidyard denied Gurule’s request for a conditional discharge, telling him the crimes he’d pleaded to involved reckless and dangerous acts that resulted in harm to a child, “and those are the type of acts for which this court cannot enter a conditional discharge.”

(15) comments

James Martinez

he didn't do it that little girls mom is crazy look at all the other guys whose lives she has ruined. he just didn't have the money to fight the machine. this DA lets obelisk vandals walk free and they mess with a guy who medically could not have done what they claimed. I watched it live. even the judge knew he was being railroaded

So Sad

This guy is a straight perv... known him around santa fe and am not surprised he is a pedophile.

He should be castrated. Wtf with the DA and the judge. Put a guy in jail for 3 months for a stolen burrito and let the pedp walk free. Belongs in prison getting his from the inmates.

Tracey Hennessey

I agree, who would make a plea like the one he did if he didn't do it. He cannot be around children, he is not safe.

Joe Brownrigg

A lot of emotional feelings here!

1. MOST cases are settled via plea bargain.

2. The prosecution could not or did not present requested evidence.

3. We are living in a time when claims are not believed, but that is changing.

4. This man did NOT "get off." He has to register as a sex offender. That is a 10-year sentence, plus many more years of unofficial condemnation.

5. The information presented in this article is incomplete.

6. Therefore, let's stop blowin off about this. He might or might not be guilty of the more horrendous charges.

7. PLEASE stop using news items like this to attack the mayor and/or the DA. There's enough REAL news to be upset about!!

Andrew Lucero

This doesn’t pass the smell test on any level… First of all, a truly innocent man doesn’t take a plea deal for raping a child. And justify it because “he lost business and can’t teach his spin class since the allegations”. An innocent man would fight tooth and nail to prove his innocence’s and get his reputation back. Because unless you are found not guilty, no one ever escapes the stigma of being labeled a child rapist. Second, the DA’s office would never offer this kind of plea unless they knew they had an unwinnable case. Either that, or they are beyond incompetent and grossly derelict in their duties. (The jury is still out on the DA’s competency. But it sure isn’t looking good). Finally, what kind of judge would even consider accepting these kinds of terms for a child rape case? He should have made them either have a trial, or dismiss the case without prejudice so the DA could refile. Both the DA and the judge have some major explaining to do. Any way you look at it, this is a travesty of justice. There is now an admitted child rapist walking our streets. And all our DA and judges are doing is crossing their fingers in the hopes that he doesn’t offend again.

Jessica Bravo

When you are accused of a child rape and it is your word against hers, let me know how you would like to proceed. Do you leave it up to a jury or take a plea? Until then, you cannot and should not speak on something you have NO clue about.

Andrew Lucero

If I was innocent... I would fight and take it to a jury!

Joe Brownrigg

Get you facts straight before you start your tirade. He has not been charged with rape, nor has he been found guilty. Yet, you have already tried and sentenced him. Isn't that a bit unethical, unAmerican, and blatant??

Erich Kuerschner

Thank you Elizabeth, for restoring my faith in humanity>

What I opposed elsewhere, where EVERY SINGLE person expressed outrage does not apply here. But to avoid rewriting, my comment there was:

The MOTHER alleged the crime was committed. The alleged crime is indeed horrific, and in the very similar case of the SF mayor's mentor Neil Goldschmidt, were eventually determined to be essentially true. In fact, it is this SIMILARITY between the two, as well as the facts reported:

"The child’s mother never turned over requested records from the girl’s mental health care provider, he said, and the state never provided a detailed statement of the girl’s allegations."

that are troubling to me. How are we to distinguish between false accusations and real ones?

Having a friend that has suffered from such a false allegation makes me VERY aware of the flaws and repercussions of false accusations.

As such I am troubled that I am troubled that I am the ONLY one to whom the possibility of a false accusation has occurred, and that for most, in the case of sex crimes, allegations are sufficient.

In that light who is troubled by the sexual allegations (for which the alleger refused to appear before the ethic board) that lost Carl Trujillo his NM House seat in favor of Andrea Romero?

John Tallent

This clown got off to lightly!!! He should be locked up for the rest of his stinking life!!


Carolyn DM

F'cking probation for raping a child!! Typical NM judicial system!

Jessica Bravo

Sounds to me like the state had NO case. But then again what do I know, oh that's right, just as much as you Carolyn DM. People shouldn't speak out unless facts are known. We don't know Mr. Gurule or the child accusing him. Stick to what you know people!!!!!!

Elisabeth Wooster

Something is off in this story. There has to be a missing piece that hasn't been reported. You don't go from being charged with raping a child to being given probation without a significant change in circumstances.

David Brown


Erich Kuerschner


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