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Man could face up to 330 years in a state prison

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FARMINGTON — A Farmington man convicted by a jury of more than 20 felony sex charges faces a centuries-long prison term for inappropriately touching and molesting a 10-year-old boy.

Harold Atencio, 55, was convicted of a first-degree felony count of criminal sexual penetration and 21 second-degree felony counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor, according to San Juan County District Attorney's Office Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien.

Atencio had confessed to various sex offenses. He was charged with performing oral sex on the boy and molesting him, according to The Daily Times archives.

The one-day jury trial was held Wednesday in Aztec District Court in front of Chief District Judge Karen Townsend.

Ruth Wheeler, Atencio's attorney, said they will appeal the jury's decisions. She believes there are a number of winnable issues on appeal.

The jury's decision was a positive result for the victim, and Atencio could face up to 330 years in prison on the convictions, according to O'Brien.

The investigation by the San Juan County Sheriff's Office started on Dec. 26, 2017, when the victim's father contacted the Sheriff's Office to report sex offenses involving the boy.

The incidents occurred in June 2017 and in October of 2017, when the boy and his siblings were removed from their mother's residence in Kirtland by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.

Atencio was a neighbor of the children's mother.

The boy told his father Atencio would touch him in the "private parts," according to court documents.

The Citrus County Sheriff's Office in Inverness, Florida, conducted interviews of the victim and his siblings. The father and siblings had relocated to the state from New Mexico.

Atencio was interviewed on March 19, 2018, by detectives at the San Juan County Sheriff's Office. He confessed to inappropriately touching the boy during the interview.

A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled in the case.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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