Unlike most criminal court records that are accessible with a few keyboard strokes on the internet, New Mexico's domestic violence records are not available online. Information about harms inflicted within a household must be obtained via in-person request at the courthouse.
This omission from online databases stems from a 2008 statute aimed at protecting victims' identities and whereabouts. Until last week, it also protected City Council candidate Greg Scargall from public scrutiny of long-past and more recent allegations that could indicate a troublesome pattern.
The District 4 candidate has been accused twice of domestic violence against his wife—in 2010 and 2012—and was the subject of a "domestic violence welfare check" involving the couple last month.
Police and court records show that Santa Fe Police officers went to the Scargalls' Pueblos del Sol neighborhood home on Sept. 11 around 9:30 pm after Scargall's wife called them. When officers arrived, a police report says, the pair said their argument had been "verbal only" and police left the home without arresting anyone. She filed for divorce weeks later.
SFR reported the story late last week on its website after obtaining the report from police. A review of records held at the First Judicial District Court revealed older allegations against Scargall that are more detailed and violent than the latest incident, though he has never been prosecuted.
In 2010, his wife filed an application for a restraining order after Scargall allegedly followed her around the house, yelling at and "threatening" her, but the case was dismissed after a "mutual" agreement between Scargall and his wife, court records show.
In July 2012, Scargall—who was then identified by the name Greg Lucero in court documents—allegedly physically attacked his wife.
In her second application for a restraining order, she wrote that she had picked him up downtown because he had "too many drinks" and she didn't want him to drive. In the car, he began shouting at her and grabbing her clothing in front of the couple's two small children. Once they reached the couple's driveway, he "threw me around in [the] car and then started yanking at my face, grabbed me, threw me out, pushed me on the ground." According to the application, the beating left bruises on her face, neck, both arms, elbows and legs.
Her petition for an order of protection was initially granted but, after two continuances in court, and new petitions from both sides to dismiss the case, District Court Judge Sarah Singleton dropped it. Scargall's wife filed for divorce during that time, but never completed the filing.
Scargall has said publicly since then that he is a recovering alcoholic, but denies that this violence ever took place.
Rather, in regards to the 2012 allegation, Scargall told SFR he was too drunk to drive, his wife came to find him at the bar and they went home and argued, but "that was it."
Scargall intends to stay in the race, and says he believes someone told journalists about the most recent incident to damage him politically.
On Friday, the candidate posted a video to Facebook in which he apologized to his wife and family.
While Scargall previously admitted to a domestic violence allegation in an interview with The New Mexican in 2017 when he first ran for the seat, the details of the 2012 case were never publicized.
The allegations highlight a tension between the public's right to transparency from public officials and victims' rights to protection.
Sheila Lewis, director of Santa Fe Safe, a collaborative project to combat abuse, violence and sex trafficking, sees laws that protect accusers' identities online as an important step in encouraging victims of violence to speak up.
"This is a safety issue because petitioners who think that there's no protection for confidentiality will not file. They simply won't do it," she says, which "leaves people very vulnerable to abuse. I think the way that it has been handled is the best compromise … you can't find the information online but you can find the information if you go to the courthouse and look it up."
Scargall faces two opponents in the Nov. 5 City Council contest for District 4, including Xavier Anderson, a public safety worker who also has an unprosecuted domestic violence case on his record.
Anderson's now ex-wife asked for a protective order in 2010 when she said Anderson prevented her from leaving the couple's home and stalked her. In an interview with SFR last week, he said the allegations came up around the time of "an ugly divorce."
The revelation that two of the three candidates have been accused of domestic violence raises the question for voters: Should a tarnished record disqualify a person from holding public office?
"I'm not the person to make that judgement … I'd be very interested to hear what the four women sitting on council would have to say," says District 4's third candidate, Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez.
She has a background in public health, a clean criminal record and is the mother of a toddler.
"I don't want to win by default," she says, "I want to win because my ideas resonate with the public."
Cassutt-Sanchez says she and her campaign staff had no knowledge of the allegations and were "shocked" to read SFR's earlier report.
Lewis, the director of Santa Fe Safe, says not all domestic violence cases are created equal, and it is important to remember that domestic violence can cover a broad range of nuanced contexts.
"Some [cases] might be a one-time incident between a couple that's resolved it, and another order of protection could be a very, very serious threat to the life of the victim," she says. " … And while I find serious character flaws in people who have engaged in domestic violence, it may or may not disqualify them for public office."
Katherine Lewin contributed to this report.