Suspect hid in minor's truck, fled scene before being arrested in Animas Park

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FARMINGTON — A Farmington man faces felony molestation charges, as well as charges for resisting arrest, in Farmington Magistrate Court after meeting a minor he had exchanged online messages with on Nov. 24 in Farmington.

Derek John, 19, is charged with fourth-degree felony criminal sexual contact of a minor, as well as misdemeanors for resisting arrest, concealing identity and criminal trespass. He is also charged with petty misdemeanors for criminal damage to property, concealing identity and possession of marijuana, according to court documents.

Police were called to Animas Park at approximately 6 p.m. on Nov. 24 to respond to a harassment report. Police interviewed the 17-year-old male who made the call and learned that the minor had picked up John, with whom he had corresponded via an online dating site, at the Burger King at 948 E. Main St., according to the statement of probable cause.

The minor told police he and John then drove to Animas Park in his truck “to be intimate with each other,” according to court documents. However, when they reached the park, the victim told John he did not want to be intimate.

John allegedly became aggressive toward the minor, attempting to get into the driver’s seat with him to kiss him and to put his hands down his pants, according to court documents. The minor got out of the vehicle and physically removed John from the front seat, but as he tried to drive away, John got into the bed of the truck and climbed into the cab through the back window. The minor stopped the truck, got out and called police. He reported that John remained in the truck while they waited for police to respond, but John had left the vehicle and began to approach him just before the officers arrived.

Officers initially believed John had walked away from the scene, and they began to search the area with spotlights. But an officer noticed the truck's brake lights were illuminated, though the truck and its headlights were off, according to court documents. John was found lying on his stomach on the floor of the truck, and he refused to sit up and exit the vehicle.

John eventually fled the truck and ran from the parking lot toward the river trails system, where he was tackled and apprehended by an officer, according to court documents. 

John was allegedly uncooperative with the officers, refusing to comply while being handcuffed and attempting to pull away from the officer who escorted him back to a patrol vehicle, according to court documents. John also refused to give his name and date of birth, though police found his identification, along with a small Ziplock bag of what appeared to be marijuana and a pipe, in John’s backpack.

After John was arrested, police found damage to the minor’s vehicle. John allegedly had torn off the center steering wheel cover, and the victim’s phone was missing.

John’s preliminary hearing was on Dec. 6, and he was released from the San Juan County Adult Detention Center on the same day on a $2,000 bond, according to Lt. Vance McCullough.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or mpetersen@daily-times.com.

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