Farmington man convicted as juvenile for child sexual assault faces new charges

Steve Garrison
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Ten years after his first conviction for sexually assaulting a child, Clayton Harrison again faces charges in connection to the sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl.

Harrison, 24, of Farmington, was charged Tuesday in Farmington Magistrate Court with three counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child and three counts of criminal sexual contact with a minor.

Harrison faces 99 years in prison if convicted on all counts. He is being held on a $100,000 bond at San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

A Farmington middle school teacher first reported the alleged abuse to police on Jan. 15, according to Harrison's arrest warrant.

The teacher told a Farmington police detective that a 12-year-old student had provided troubling answers to a school assignment.

The girl, when asked about her answers, confessed to a school official that she had been touched inappropriately by Harrison several times, the warrant states.

The girl later told investigators during an interview that the abuse occurred when she visited Harrison's home. The girl said Harrison sexually penetrated her with his fingers several times over the past year and forced her to fondle his genitals, according to the warrant.

A police detective, pretending to be the girl, contacted Harrison via text message on Monday using the girl's phone.

In a text message, Harrison allegedly asked the girl if she liked the sexual acts and told her to delete the messages sent between them, the warrant states.

According to Daily Times archives, Harrison was previously convicted in December 2005 for sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl when he was 15 years old.

He was sentenced by District Judge Sandra Price to two years of probation and ordered to enter an in-patient treatment program for sex offenders.

Harrison was not required to register as a sex offender.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said state law prohibits prosecutors from seeking sex offender registration for juvenile offenders.

However, he said his office always seeks court-ordered treatment for juvenile sex offenders, whether they are incarcerated or not.

The case drew substantial attention, partly because Aztec High School administrators were not initially made aware of the fact that Harrison, who played football for the school, was convicted of the offense.

As a result, Sen. Steve Neville, R-Aztec, introduced legislation that would have required local law enforcement officials to inform the school district if a student was the subject of a "delinquency petition" for charges that included murder, aggravated battery and criminal sexual penetration of a minor.

The victim's grandfather supported the legislation.

Neville said Tuesday that the bill passed in the Senate, but died in a House committee.

"It was going all right," he said. "We had done some tweaking to help ease the mind of some of the civil-libertarian types."

He said the legislation was not brought back up again in the next legislative session, but he believes the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department may have implemented policies to address the issue.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.