Slip and Fall: $200,000.00
Car Wreck: $320,000.00
DUI Wreck: $2,000,000.00
Wrongful Death: $400,000.00
Pedestrian Injury: $750,000.00
Archdiocese of Santa Fe Abuse News Stories:
Another child molested at Santa Fe Catholic school with history of abuse
Santa Fe, NM - Another student attending Santo Niño Regional Catholic School in Santa Fe is now among a growing list of victims of child sex crimes.
A 9-year-old boy has bravely revealed that the school nurse, Robert Andrew Apodaca (DOB 01/24/1991), was inappropriately touching him.
“As I send my child off to school every day, I trust strangers in the education system to have the best interest of this vulnerable little human being,” shares the young boy’s mother. “It’s heartbreaking to learn not everyone has the right intentions.”
According to New Mexico State Police:
-The alleged crime occurred April 2021 when the victim was 8 years old.
-Apodaca was overseeing an after-school program in which the kids watched a movie.
-Another school worker says when she tried to go into the room with Apodaca and the students, the door was locked. When she finally got inside, she was “startled and surprised” to see Apodaca with a child on his lap. The witness says Apodaca also seemed startled to see the other adult and asked, “What are you doing here?”
-The child told his parents, the principal and police that several times Apodaca had picked him up, placed him on Apodaca’s lap and rubbed the boy’s body. According to the child, Apodaca would give him lollypops and let him play games on the nurse’s iPad, treats only given to him.
-On several occasions, Apodaca took the victim on walks around the school and into empty rooms after school hours, telling the child to keep this behavior their secret.
-The principal says it’s against school policy for staff and kids to be alone together.
-Apodaca has left the school.
Shortly after this investigation at Santo Niño began, Apodaca was formally charged in another case and is now being held without bail. He admitted to repeatedly molesting another child, a 12-year-old boy, dating back to 2019. Police say he met that other child while working as a nurse at Kearny Elementary and Gonzales Community School. He also knew the 12-year-old boy because Apodaca was a minister in the same Jehovah’s Witness congregation. Over the last several years, Apodaca’s employment as a nurse at various schools, and his position as a minister, put hundreds of kids in dangerous contact with him.
If this story sounds familiar, that’s because it is.
In 2016, a 6-year-old girl at the very same school, Santo Niño Regional Catholic, accused her art teacher, Aaron Dean Chavez, of illegally and inappropriately touching her. The courage of this young girl inspired many others to also come forward with their own horrific stories of abuse spanning many years. Chavez was found guilty and is now serving a 15-year prison sentence.
Tragically, the abuses in 2016 were preventable. The Santo Niño school administration and former Principal Theresa Vaisa had been ignoring the red flags for years. Back in 2012, Chavez had faced another allegation from a different student, but evidence shows the school failed to conduct its own internal investigation and the molester was let back into the classroom. In 2016 when more students started speaking up against Chavez, police recordings show Principal Vaisa doubting, blaming and even shaming the children who bravely shared their experiences. The trial testimony reveals Vaisa knowingly buried the accusations, evaded police questions and negligently curated an environment ripe for a child predator.
While a civil case against former Principal Vaisa and the Catholic school is still ongoing, now a new administration under the direction of current Principal Robin Chavez has again failed to protect children by allowing a new molester in the front door.
“How could the same heinous acts be committed at the same school, and in such a short time period? Where are the systemic changes that could have prevented these life-scarring abuses from happening over and over?” asks attorney Aaron Boland, who represents student victims. “The victims’ parents and I are sickened to see a pattern at Santo Niño. How could the children of our community again be put in such grave danger, and what will it take for this to stop?”
If your child has been a victim of abuse, please contact New Mexico State Police, and for legal guidance, please contact Aaron Boland.
Related News Stories:
Type of Case:
DUI Car Wreck.
Two sisters, both eighteen years old, were driving home one night when a drunk driver traveling the wrong direction on the freeway struck them head on. The at-fault driver’s blood alcohol content was FIVE times the legal limit when tested an hour after the crash occurred. The two sisters suffered extensive, horrific injuries. One of the young women had an open femur fracture and paramedics needed to use the jaws of life to retrieve her from the vehicle. The other suffered severe internal injuries and required multiple surgeries in the following weeks just to survive. It was an unnecessary tragedy inflicted on their lives and their families.
Extensive video footage taken at local resort and casino showed the driver receiving alcoholic beverages while visibly intoxicated. Despite this evidence, the resort was uncooperative.
In order to make the personal cost of this wreck clear, we focused on the background of the sisters. We told stories of young, student-athletes on their way to college and bright futures; futures stolen by the recklessness of the driver and the wanton disregard for the value of human life by a major corporation. Stories of two innocent people whose lives are forever marred.
After diligently fighting with the major corporation that owns the Casino, the sisters were awarded a substantial sum of money that helped to bring some justice.
TYPE OF CASE: Personal Injury, Pedestrian.
WHAT HAPPENED: An elderly Hispanic resident of Santa Fe was walking on the sidewalk of busy St. Michael’s Drive when she got blindsided by a car that was being delivered to a car dealership. Her leg was crushed, her mobility and quality of life substantially impaired for the remainder of her years. At primary fault was the out-of-state trucking company, which was routinely delivering vehicles in a recklessly unsafe manner, as well as the dealership, which was complicit.
CHALLENGES: Though she was a legal resident entitled to the same protections under the law as any citizen, the victim’s version of events was discounted by the insurers of the at-fault companies. We have observed that in the legal system and the insurance industry, there are subtle (and often not so subtle) forms of discrimination practiced against Spanish speakers. Furthermore, insurance companies routinely mistreat the elderly, discounting their medical damages, pain, and suffering as pre-existing conditions—old age.
STRATEGY, TACTICS: Due to our familiarity with Santa Fe jurors, we immediately recognized that our client was a sympathetic victim, and swiftly gathered the material that would tell her story in evocative human terms. We deployed a sensitive translator, who has legal skills, and videographer to record her suffering in the hospital and struggling at home. We also conducted an undercover investigation to collect video evidence that the trucking company unloaded vehicles in this this unsafe way all the time.
FOR THE WIN: In response to our demand, which detailed all of these circumstances and more, the insurers settled the case for a substantial sum. After that, we negotiated our client’s medical expenses down significantly.
BONUS WINS: Collateral benefits of the case include enhanced community safety—deliveries to the dealership are now made in a much safer manner—and the satisfaction of holding an out-of-state company responsible for its actions here in Santa Fe.
TYPE OF CASE: Car wreck.
WHAT HAPPENED: A family of four from Mexico was travelling legally after visiting family in Colorado. On the interstate near Santa Fe, their car was sandwiched between vehicles, and got crushed from the rear by an RV going 70 mph. All four members of the family were injured, and the 18-month-old toddler needed emergency brain surgery.
CHALLENGES: Because of their nationality, these were particularly vulnerable clients. The initial police report incorrectly blamed the father for the wreck, making an insurance claim and compensation for the family’s considerable damages impossible to pursue.
STRATEGY, TACTICS: We engaged an expert in the specialized field of accident reconstruction. He proved that the father was not at fault, convinced the policeman that he had been wrong, and the officer changed his report accordingly. We filed a thorough and persuasive demand to the insurance companies of the other drivers.
FOR THE WIN: After facing the prospect of financial ruin due to significant medical expenses, the family received a significant settlement that they considered this a fair and just compensation.
TYPE OF CASE: Premises liability.
WHAT HAPPENED: An athletic middle-aged woman suffered a hip injury by slipping on melted snow in a chain retail store. The company delayed resolving her claim in an effort to run out the clock on the three-year statute of limitations for filing suit. The victim eventually needed surgery.
CHALLENGE: Our client, who had long labored under the misconception that the insurance company would do the right thing, waited until the last minute to approach us.
STRATEGY, TACTICS: We immediately recognized it was a worthy case, and went into action with urgency and aggressiveness. We filed suit the day after she walked in, and the case went to mediation.
FOR THE WIN: Our client was awarded a large sum of money more than the company was originally prepared to pay.
Being in a car wreck is a traumatic and often life-altering experience. It is also the time when you want the insurance companies involved to do the right thing. Yet so many clients feel like they are getting the run around, if not getting pushed around by the very companies that are supposed to be helping you. Let me help you to make the insurance industry pay what is fair and just. I would be happy to evaluate the worth of your case at a free consultation. Contact Me Today
TYPE OF CASE: Car wreck, with bodily injury and fatality.
WHAT HAPPENED: A young mother under the influence of multiple drugs rear-ended a truck. Her four- year-old son was killed, and her 10-month-old baby had severe injuries, including a broken back. The mother was convicted of two crimes and sentenced to prison.
CHALLENGES: We represented the baby girl—the ultimate innocent victim of a horribly tragic event—and we were determined to fight on her behalf. But there was no insurance on the vehicle the mother drove, so there was no clear path to compensation. The identity of her father is unknown, which was another complicating factor in what also became an estate case.
STRATEGY, TACTICS: In every case, we do whatever it takes to get to know the client’s story in full. This time, that meant going beyond the police report to conduct an onsite investigation of the home where the family lived, which was the grandparents’ house. There we noticed three vehicles in the driveway, which opened the door to multiple sources of insurance coverage.
FOR THE WIN: As the survivor in the wrongful death of her brother and the victim of her mother’s crime of inflicting severe bodily harm, the baby girl received a substantial sum of money, which was placed in trust.
BONUS WIN: The girl was adopted by her foster family. By the time she turns 18 and the trust starts to become available, the value should exceed be more than 15 times the original amount.