Two New Mexico firefighters, and one man who recently retired from the same department, appeared in court this week to face disturbing allegations that they engaged in a gang rape after a round of golf.
Aden Heyman, 46, Angel Portillo, 36, and Anthony Martin, 44, each stand accused of criminal sexual penetration in the second degree.
They were arrested on Wednesday night and booked into jail, according to the Albuquerque Police Department. They silently appeared in court via video on Thursday, where attorneys entered not-guilty pleas, according to Albuquerque-based NBC affiliate KOB.
The incident occurred on July 15.
The woman claims she voluntarily drank with Portillo and Martin at a golf tournament throughout that day. Martin then invited the others back to the swimming pool at The Villas at Menaul, an apartment complex on Menaul Boulevard in the northeastern part of the city. There, Heyman later met up with the group, the woman told police.
The woman told police they “were swimming, laughing and having fun,” but when Heyman showed up, “the energy shifted,” according to a criminal complaint obtained by the Albuquerque Journal.
The woman allegedly said her memory got hazy and “began to fade,” but she remembered waking up to the men holding her down and taking turns raping her. The woman told police she was “terrified” and Heyman was “instructing the other two” and “coaching them.”
Making up an excuse to use the restroom, the woman climbed out the window. She was found doubled over and crying near the swimming pool by a couple who called police around 11 p.m.
The woman told police she initially had consensual sex with one of the men – but that after she “lost a couple of hours,” at least two men were raping her, and nothing was consensual inside the bedroom.
An attorney for one of the men claims everything was consensual.
“He is 100% innocent,” Martin’s attorney, Ben Ortega, said in a statement provided to various local media outlets. “All three engaged in nothing but consensual activity. The allegations that it wasn’t consensual are false. We’re going to get to the bottom of why she’s falsely accusing them. These false allegations are trying to ruin the lives of these distinguished firefighters, and it’s tragic for these gentlemen.”
An investigation revealed that the woman’s sister knew Portillo and Martin from her job as a lieutenant at Albuquerque Fire Rescue and made the introduction that led to the day at the golf event. Police later searched the sister’s phone and discovered a series of text messages that seemingly referenced the disputed incident.
Portillo messaged the woman’s sister and said he was “upset with” himself and “one thing led to another and alcohol influenced questionable decisions.” Heyman also allegedly sent a text to the sister to say he was sorry if he lost her trust and cared about her “a tremendous amount,” according to the criminal complaint.
Police then found messages between Heyman and Martin from July 18.
“I don’t think she wants people knowing about it,” Heyman allegedly wrote.
“I would hope it doesn’t get out unless the worst happens or we mention it,” Martin allegedly replied. “Which I won’t ever.”
To which Heyman allegedly wrote back: “I’ll never say a word about it to anyone and I’m sure [Portillo] is on the same page.”
Police also claim that Heyman entered the following search terms into Google on Aug. 7: “how long does dna stay in vagina.”
All three firefighters were placed on administrative leave after the allegations came to light. Martin eventually retired from the department.
“We were made aware of APD’s criminal investigation in July and took immediate steps to launch an internal investigation to determine if the employees violated AFR policies,” Fire Chief Emily Jaramillo said in a statement. “The three employees were immediately placed on administrative leave. The allegations were alarming and we determined a thorough investigation was necessary to determine the facts. We are fully cooperating with APD investigators and treat these allegations seriously. Now that criminal charges have been filed in court, we will respect the judicial process and refrain from commenting on details of the case.”
During the Thursday hearing, prosecutors requested and received pretrial detention for each suspect.
Jason Bowles, Heyman’s attorney, told the Journal that his client “has committed no crime and is innocent of these charges.”
Heather LeBlanc, Portillo’s attorney, bemoaned the pretrial detention decision in comments to KOB.
“Angel Portillo adamantly maintains his innocence in this matter,” she said in an earlier statement. “As a respected firefighter in our community, he has dedicated his life to helping others. He is fully aware of the gravity of these charges and has fully cooperated with law enforcement in the ongoing investigation. We will be vigorously defending against these allegations to ensure that the truth prevails.”
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