LAS CRUCES, N.M. (CN) — After arresting her as she stepped out of a shower in her home, handcuffing her and subjecting her to lewd comments, a New Mexico sheriff’s officer forced a woman into a sexual relationship with him, she claims in court.
Melissa Granados sued the Otero County Sheriff’s Department, sheriff’s Officer Joshua R. Sides and others on Wednesday in Federal Court.
Granados claims that after Sides and four other officers entered her home without a warrant and arrested her as she got out of the shower, naked except for a towel, co-defendant sheriff’s Officer John Emory joked with Sides and others that it was “hard to handcuff her … those tits are distracting me.”
She says Emory, Sides and the other officers watched her dress, making lewd comments the whole time, and that “(t)here was clearly no threat to them as she was naked and not armed.”
The five officers of the Otero County Narcotics Enforcement Unit entered her home “claiming they had an arrest warrant for plaintiff, however never produced any valid warrant to enter her home,” she says in the complaint.
After her father paid $4,000 to bond her out of jail three days later, Granados says, Sides told her she had 24 hours to accept his offer to work as an informant. Granados says she refused, and never did work as an informant for him or she sheriff, but learned later “that her charges were dismissed after Sides wrote a letter that stated she agreed to confidentially assist Otero County NEU and that she had satisfactorily assisted them. As a result, her charges were dropped.”
The complaint continues: “In the days and weeks that followed, defendant Sides asked her to engage in a sexual relationship with him. She consented to this relationship under duress always feeling afraid of him.”
In the months during which the sex continued, she says, “Sides became increasingly controlling and began to act in very disturbing ways. For example, he sent her a picture message via phone that contained an image of him choking her dog.”
She arrived home one day to find him already inside, though he had no key, and he told her he could have her pulled over, Granados says in the complaint. So she “finally decided to tell him to leave her alone.”
That made things worse, she says. On Jan. 11, 2016, he came to her back door, “head butted her and pulled her to the ground,” the complaint states. She says she reported the “assault and battery” to the Otero County Sheriff’s Department, which took no action.
On Jan. 12, she says, Sides pulled in behind her as she arrived home, followed her inside without permission, hit her and knocked her down, knocking her unconscious. She thinks he hit her with a small baton police use to break car windows, and is certain that whatever it was it “left permanent damage to her face.”
When she regained consciousness, she says, she saw “defendant Sides calling her name and that he was on the ground cleaning up her blood,” and says her nephew saw both attacks.
She reported the attack to the sheriff’s office again, and again it “never called for an ambulance, responded to her call at all, or sent anyone out to take photographs of her injuries or her home,” she says in the complaint.
When the office finally did respond, she says, the very members of the Narcotics Enforcement Unit who had entered her home and mocked her were sent to investigate and “appeared to minimize the conduct of defendant Sides and make improper accusations against Ms. Granados.” They did not take photos of her obvious injuries, she says.
New Mexico State Police arrested Sides in late June 2016 and charged him with third-degree felony aggravated battery against a household member (great bodily harm) and misdemeanor battery against a household member, according to the Alamagordo Daily News, which identified the unnamed, 35-year-old victim as “his girlfriend.”
Sheriff Benny House, a defendant in Granados’s lawsuit, told the Daily News for its June 29, 2016 story that Sides had already resigned.
“He resigned months ago,” the sheriff told the Daily News.
Granados seeks punitive damages for negligence, sexual discrimination resulting in battery, excessive force, false arrest and imprisonment, negligent hiring, unreasonable seizure, warrantless entry of her home, physical and emotional trauma, permanent scarring, medical costs and costs of suit.
She is represented by Frances Crockett Carpenter of Albuquerque.