Former teacher charged after students come forward about sexual contact on school trips

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LAS CRUCEZ, CA – Doña Ana County District Attorney Gerald Byers announced Thursday that Patrick Howard, 62, plead guilty to one third-degree felony count of criminal sexual contact of a minor by a person in a position of authority and one count of battery, a petty misdemeanor.

The victims spoke at the plea and sentencing hearing on Thursday, May 27. Howard will serve no less than five years of supervised probation with sex offender treatment and 80 hours of community service.

District Court Judge Douglas Driggers presided over the hearing and sentencing. Las Cruces Police investigated complaints by multiple students in 2018 that alleged Howard touched them inappropriately on numerous occasions, including on school-sponsored trips out-of-town. Initially, Howard faced four counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor by a person in a position of authority. Howard left the Las Cruces Public School District in 2018.

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The State moved forward with the plea after the victims disclosed they wanted to eliminate the risk and stress that a trial would present.