Former foster mother sentenced to 18 years in prison for child abuse
Victim told police Hope Graciano beat him with furniture
FARMINGTON — A former foster mother who was charged with severely abusing a young boy in her care has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after pleading no contest to four felonies during a Sept. 10 hearing.
Hope Graciano, 55, was convicted of a second-degree felony count of attempted child abuse and two third-degree felony counts of child abuse along with a third-degree felony count of intimidation of a witness on the afternoon of Sept. 10 in Aztec District Court, according to San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien.
Chief District Judge Karen Townsend of the 11th Judicial District sentenced Graciano to 18 years in state prison — nine years for the second-degree felony and three years for each third-degree felony conviction.
The defendant was initially charged with a first-degree felony count of child abuse, which she pleaded down to a second-degree during the hearing.
Arlon Stoker, Graciano's attorney, declined to comment on the hearing.
"We believe it's an appropriate sentence," O'Brien said.
Graciano was licensed to provide treatment foster care through the now-closed La Familia-Namaste Foster Care at the time of the incident. The entity was an Albuquerque nonprofit organization that was licensed in New Mexico to provide treatment foster care and adoption.
Organization officials stated Graciano was no longer a foster parent three days after the investigation by Farmington Police Department was launched. The foster children at the residence also were removed.
The investigation was launched on Sept. 25, 2017, when Graciano brought the then-11-year-old boy to San Juan Regional Medical Center for treatment for his injuries.
The boy told police Graciano beat him with a piece of a bed frame at her residence in Farmington after he answered a math problem incorrectly, according to The Daily Times archives.
Some of the boy's injuries included multiple instances of purple and brown bruising on his shoulders, cheeks, chest, forearms and head. He also had two black eyes that were so swollen, the boy had trouble seeing.
The boy was flown to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque due to the severity of his injuries.
During the investigation, a doctor told police the boy's injuries did not match the report from Graciano about how he was injured.
She claimed the boy was struck in the face with a railroad tie as he practiced dives for soccer.
Court documents state Graciano changed her story about the boy's injuries at least two times.
Graciano was also convicted of intimidating the boy by stating she would hunt him down and kill him if he told anyone about the abuse.
One of the third-degree child abuse convictions stems from Graciano grabbing the hair of a then-8-year-old girl and dragging her.
The suspect was deemed competent to stand trial by Judge Townsend on June 28 after a forensic evaluation was performed on Graciano, according to court documents.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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