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The "ringleader" in the 2008 assaults on young football team members at a training camp was sentenced in Santa Fe, New Mexico, last week. Mark Gallegos pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal sexual penetration, three counts of attempted criminal sexual penetration and a count of conspiracy. He was sentenced as a juvenile by State District Judge Mark Macaron.
"Mr. Gallegos, your life is not over because of this. It could have been 30 years," Judge Macaron said, according to a report by the New Mexican. In an attack really too brutal to called just football hazing, two younger football players were sodomized with a broomstick and several others were assaulted. The sentence given to Gallegos was more severe than for the others, but appropriate because, according to Judge Macaron, he was the instigator of the attack and the ensuing attempt at a cover-up.
In asking the court for leniency, Gallegos said, "I wish there were better words I could use, but I just had a lapse in judgment in two days of my life. I beg you not to judge me on that." The New Mexican reports that the judge acknowledged the pain Gallegos and his family had endured, but noted that it was self-inflicted.
Gallegos's sentence will be much lighter as a juvenile than had he been sentenced as an adult sex offender. Under the New Mexico Children's Code, Gallegos will most likely spend 21 months in a juvenile detention facility and serve the final 90 days of his two-year sentence on probation. He was not given credit for time served during his previous probation or for the house arrest he was under during the past two years. Gallegos may be allowed to continue his education online during his detention. He has completed his GED and has taken courses at The University of New Mexico.
The sentencing will not be the end of the matter either for the defendants, or their victims. The civil cases have already been filed, and according to the New Mexican, name Las Vegas City Schools Board of Education, the district's current and former superintendents, the athletic director at Robertson High School at the time of the attacks, coaches for the school's football team, the six attackers, their parents and the owners of the camp where the football hazing and assaults took place, all as defendants.
The future events in this legal action are sure to be painful. Gallegos' attorney, Billy Blackburn, predicted, "Book 1 (the criminal charges) is a pimple on an elephant compared to what Book 2 (the civil lawsuit) is going to be in this case," he said.
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