Private school principal faces sexual assault charges

Court records indicate that Lavalais is currently facing one count of criminal sexual penetration of a minor under the age of 13; three counts of criminal sexual interference with a minor under 13; and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor under the age of 18.

The abuse allegedly took place on the tiny campus of Legacy Christian Academy, which has 18 students.

Investigators say the charges were laid last week after a 12-year-old student told a counselor Lavalais had recently engaged him in sexual activity, including viewing pornography.

“A counselor for one of the children disclosed to law enforcement that this counselor had learned something from one of the children, primarily relating to the principal showing pornography to the child,” said Scott Key, attorney for the twelfth judicial district of New Mexico.

It was later learned that Lavalais may have had three or four similar encounters with the alleged victim.

“We’re talking about grooming events and behaviors that happened in the days, weeks, and months leading up to it,” Key said.

Key added that charges against Lavalais related to similar activity with other students are possible.

Lavalais is currently in prison. The district attorney’s office filed a motion to keep him in custody pending trial.

A remand hearing on the motion is scheduled for tomorrow.

Todd Holmes, Lavalais’ attorney, did not return calls seeking comment on the charges against his client. The school also declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Martha K. Merrill