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Former Las Cruces High School teacher takes plea deal for inappropriately touching a student

Patrick howard
Howard is charged with two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor by a person in a position of authority and one count of battery

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Patrick Howard, 54, who is now a former Las Cruces High School teacher agreed to a plea deal Thursday, for inappropriately touching a student.

Howard was charged with two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor by a person in a position of authority, a third-degree felony, and one count of battery according to the District Attorney's Office.

Howard did not appear in court Thursday. He was charged for "smacking" a 16-year-old girl on her buttocks. Investigators said this happened on multiple occasions. Police had said the girl's father reported the incident to the school principal back on January 2018. Officers investigated complaints by multiple students alleging Howard had touched them inappropriately on numerous occasions, including on school sponsored trips out-of-town.

Las Cruces Public Schools said Howard has not been employed with the district since 2018.

In the teachers plea agreement, Judge Douglas Driggers granted Howard a conditional discharge and by law does not have to register as a sex offender. He was given five years probation, must receive sex offender treatment, serve 80 hours of community service, and he cannot have any contact with the victim.

Howard could of faced six and a half years in prison. Officials said the State moved forward with the plea after the victims disclosed they wanted to eliminate the risk and stress that a trial would present. 

A criminal complaint indicated that Howard worked as an agriculture teacher.

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

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Wil Herren

Wil Herren is a former ABC-7 news and sports reporter.


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