--2 Former Capital High School Janitor Sues Employer Over Rape Allegations
         
Sept. 27, 2016
capital-high
Wren Abbott

Former Capital High School Janitor Sues Employer Over Rape Allegations

Woman says coworker raped her in the school multiple times

April 3, 2014, 5:00 pm
By Joey Peters

 A woman who worked as a janitor at Capital High School for nearly three years is suing her employer over allegations that her coworker raped her at the school on three different occasions.

The woman alleges that her coworker Bayron Sican raped her three times on the job between late 2011 and early 2013, when she was employed at Capital High School. She also claims that Sican physically groped her on several occasions, constantly called her a lesbian "and said he could change that" and often "made similar sexual comments to other women in the workplace," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed last month in the First Judicial District Court , names Sican, two of his coworkers and Maintenance Service Systems and Atlas Resources—the companies that employed them all to do janitorial work at Capital High School. The lawsuit asks for relief in violation of five counts, including battery, sex discrimination and retaliation under the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

The woman, an undocumented immigrant, alleges the events have caused her "severe emotional distress."

"She lives in fear of losing her job and of being deported," the lawsuit reads. "Her emotional and physical relationship with her husband has deteriorated. The disruption has caused significant distress to her children also." 

In a court response filed earlier this week by attorney Repps Stanford, Sican denies that he ever raped the women. The defendants also deny that the woman ever brought the rape allegations to them and instead claim she only told them about Sican's lewd comments.

SFR contacted Stanford and the woman's attorney Thursday, but neither was available for comment. Santa Fe Public Schools Chief of Staff Latifah Phillips writes SFR in an email that "this is the first I've heard of the matter."

The problems began, according to the lawsuit, with Sican making "crude remarks of a sexual nature" to the woman. He soon allegedly started promising to give the woman workplace favors in exchange for sex.

"He said that if [she] would have sex with him she would have more privileges and would not have to beg for routine professional courtesies, such as to be let off an hour early to take her son to the dentist," the lawsuit reads.

Sican allegedly raped her three times, "once in an office, once in an upstairs utility/machine room and once in a supply closet." The woman says she was treated after the rape incidents at La Familia Medical Center.

Sican, the lawsuit alleges, also used the woman's status as an undocumented immigrant to threaten about telling anyone about what happened to her.

"He said that no one would believe her if she told, that she would be fired, that she would be deported because she did not have work papers, and that she would tell her husband that she flirted with him," the lawsuit reads.

The woman also claims that her supervisors Don Fortino and Shawna LaValley didn't help her when she finally brought the allegations to them in early 2013. Fortino allegedly told the woman to "persevere through the remaining 12 weeks of the school year with the vague expectation that Mr. Sican might not be around next year." LaValley, in a March 2013 meeting, downplayed the rape allegations and instead"focused on issues such as spreading rumors, teamwork, etc."

Fortino, the lawsuit alleges, even "encourage[d] the abusive environment" by making sexist remarks and bringing a gun on campus.

"Don Fortino told employees what he would do with women, how he would grab them and touch them," the suit reads. "On one occasion, when Mr. Sican told Don Fortino he would 'take away the lesbian' Don Fortino told Mr. Sican to do whatever he wanted to outside of work—but not here." 

Fortino and LaVelle deny the allegations in the court response.

The lawsuit says that the woman's "fears of retaliation" came true when her employer transferred her to work at another Santa Fe school in April 2013, "increasing her daily commute by 20-30 minutes each way." When she asked why she was being transferred, she claims LaValley told her that "she was bothering Mr. Sican, and there was too much gossip at Capital High School." 

LaValley and her company, however, contend that the woman's transfer of workplace only came after they received a letter from her attorney in April 2013.

The woman also went to the Santa Fe Police Department with the rape allegations in March 2013. The department has since opened an investigation that's still ongoing, according to SFPD spokeswoman Celina Westervelt. The woman also filed a complaint with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions' Human Rights Bureau last April, which was cross filed to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Human Rights Bureau, according to the lawsuit, gave her attorneys a "probable cause determination on the basis of sex retaliation" last September.

The lawsuit says that the woman is still living in fear of Sican. Last October, she claims she ran into a friend of Sican's who threatened her to "drop the case or she'll 'pay for it.'"

Read the lawsuit and the defendants' responses below:

RapeComplaint
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RapeResponse
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