By Daniel Libit
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has expanded his multifaceted review of the University of New Mexico’s athletic department to include at least one allegation of sexual assault by a former Lobo football player, NMFishbowl.com has learned.
The specific incident in question appears to be the same one referenced in a Hogan Marren law firm investigation report released last month, which presented claims that UNM football coach Bob Davie had instructed his players to “get some dirt” on the accuser.
Davie has since denied ever making “that or any similar comment.”
The Hogan Marren report anonymized the subjects as “UNM Football Player B” and “UNM Student B”, but the details it conveys match those of a sexual assault case involving Nias Martin. The former UNM cornerback (pictured above) was accused of raping his then ex-girlfriend on Feb. 18, 2016, after inviting her to his Lobo Village apartment to watch a movie.
The accuser told campus police that Martin forcibly removed her clothes and put a pillow over her mouth to muffle her screams, as he sexually assaulted her.
According to police documents, Martin eventually acknowledged to officers that he had sex with the accuser despite her repeatedly telling him “no” and “stop”, but claimed that she had undercut her objections by kissing him back.
Reached by phone Thursday, Martin declined to comment other than to deny that Davie had actively sought to discredit the accuser.
“Coach Davie didn’t do anything like that,” Martin said. “He wasn’t that type of guy.” (Michael Kennedy, Davie’s attorney, did not respond to a request seeking comment for this story.)
Asked about the details of the alleged sexual assault, Martin told NMFishbowl.com, “I would honestly rather not answer any more questions,” and hung up.
Martin was never criminally charged, as prosecutors said the accuser ultimately decided against cooperating.
“Our last contact with the victim was on August 4, 2016, and the victim made it clear that she did not want to proceed,” Michael Patrick, a spokesman for the Bernalillo County District Attorney, told NMFishbowl.com. Prior to that, Patrick said, prosecutors had been preparing over that summer for a grand jury; UNM police had recommended charging Martin with first-degree sexual assault.
There is a five-year statute of limitations in New Mexico for second degree sexual assault, and no statute of limitations for a first degree offense, meaning that the accuser could still pursue prosecution if she so chooses. According to the Hogan Marren report, the law firm spoke with the accuser in the course of its investigation last year, and she confirmed the account of the incident she had originally relayed to UNM police. (NMFishbowl.com was unable to reach the accuser and is declining to name her in this story.)
Balderas’ decision to review the matter came a week after UNM announced it would suspend Davie for what it described as violations of school administrative policies and the head coach’s employment contract.
Last month, the AG’s Office’s General Counsel Kenneth Stalter sent a letter to University Counsel Elsa Cole requesting “all investigative materials” by UNM’s police department that related to “an alleged rape that occurred on or about Jan. 19, 2016 at the Lobo Village.” (It appears that the letter misidentified the precise date of the incident.)
NMFishbowl.com recently obtained that and other correspondence between the AG’s Office and UNM through a public records request.
“It’s unfortunate that UNM released items that were clearly law enforcement in nature and part of an ongoing investigation,” the AG’s Office spokesman, James Hallinan, said in a statement. “It would be inappropriate for the Office of the Attorney General to comment further.”
UNM did not respond to a request to comment for this story.
Ironically, the AG’s Office also appears to be intensely interested in how the university handles record retention and disclosure procedures following several reports, by this website and other media outlets, which called into question UNM’s adherence to the Inspection of Public Records Act.
The Attorney General’s focus on this is borne out in a Jan. 23 letter Stalter sent to UNM, requesting 37 different categories of documents, dating back over the last three years, which could inform state prosecutors’ “ongoing civil and criminal review” of the school and its athletic department. That letter provides the most detailed picture yet of what the AG’s Office seeks to untangle from the widening net it has cast.
Among its other noteworthy subjects of interest are:
- The financial behavior of, and relationships between, the university, the UNM Foundation and the UNM Lobo Club
- Donor contributions
- External investigations contracted by UNM
- The use of university purchasing cards (or P-Cards)
- The P-Card saga of Cody Hopkins, the former Lobo men’s basketball operations director
- Former Athletic Director Paul Krebs
- Other criminal investigations by the UNM police department
- The infamous 2015 Lobo booster trip to Scotland
- Unpaid luxury suites at The Pit
- Title IX compliance
This past September, UNM hired former federal judge Bruce Black to conduct a preliminary inquiry about a series of wide-ranging allegations made against Davie. Per his agreement with the school’s Board of Regents, Black never produced a written report of his findings.
After media stories (primarily by this website) began to pull back the curtain on the Davie investigations, Balderas publicly rebuked the school for the hyper-secrecy of its inquiries.
“I am extremely concerned by the lack of progress and the slow pace of disclosures related to UNM Athletics,” Balderas said in a December statement. “By hiring a private investigator with public funds to secretly investigate potential wrongdoing and failing to disclose those findings to the public, UNM is blatantly disregarding its responsibility to students, alumni, and taxpayers.”
That same month, UNM hired the Chicago-based Hogan Marren law firm to follow up on Black’s leads and advise the university on whether Davie had committed a fireable offense. In its final report, released along with the OEO investigation report last month, Hogan Marren revealed that Black had been told by witnesses about Davie’s alleged solicitation of “dirt” on Martin’s accuser.
The Hogan Marren report noted that while its attorneys had confirmed that a closed-door meeting between coaches and players occurred, they were unable to determine what Davie had said in the course of it.
“…[F]ormer players and coaches contacted either claimed not to have been present at the meeting, had no recollection of Coach Davie using the words reported to the judge or only remembered that the players were simply told they needed to protect their teammate and to provide information about the incident to Coach Davie,” the report stated.
Davie is set to return from his unpaid suspension on March 18. In the interim, Kennedy, the coach’s lawyer, has continued to petition UNM’s Board of Regents to reverse the suspension, saying that it violates due process and Davie’s employee rights.
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office had not determined what kind of charge(s) it would have presented to a grand jury regarding a sexual assault case involving former Lobo football player Nias Martin. The UNM police had recommended charging Martin with first degree sexual assault.
(Featured Image by Norm Hall / Getty)