Judge rejects Robert Apodaca's plea deal in child sex assault cases

Dec. 7—State District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer rejected a plea agreement Wednesday that would have allowed Robert Apodaca, accused of molesting several children at Santa Fe schools, to plead no contest to three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor.

The agreement would have exposed Apodaca to between 18 and 30 years in prison.

He faces a total of 13 charges of sexually assaulting boys in four cases. The plea deal would have consolidated the cases and led to the dismissal of 10 counts, including a rape charge.

Apodaca, 31, is accused of molesting four children and teenagers while working as a school health aide at Santo Niño Regional Catholic School and Gonzales Community School from 2018 to 2021.

Families of the accusers and their attorneys vehemently opposed the proposed agreement in court. Attorney Paul Linnenburger stood up midway through the hearing Wednesday and asked Marlowe Sommer to allow representatives of the boys to speak against the no-contest provision in the agreement.

Linnenburger initially wanted to speak on behalf of his client. However, the judge allowed only parents to address the court.

The judge said she was swayed by the parents who spoke against the plea agreement.

"The second presenter certainly provided some compelling information to the court, and I do not think it is in the best interest of justice to take a no-contest plea today," Marlowe Sommer said.

This is a developing story. Check back here for more details.