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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Third suspect, SaQwan Edwards, arrested in sex assault case

Another football player charged with criminal sexual penetration, kidnapping

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By Sergio Jiménez / New Mexico Daily Lobo

New Mexico cornerback SaQwan Edwards looks towards the sidelines during a game against the Utah State Aggies on Oct 19, 2013. UNM Police Department Lt. Tim Stump said at a press conference Tuesday that police obtained an arrest warrant for Edwards, as the third suspect in a criminal sexual penetration case reported by a UNM student on April 13. Edwards turned himself in to the Metropolitan Detention Center Tuesday evening where he was booked on two counts of criminal sexual penetration and one count of kidnapping. Edwards is being held without bond as of Tuesday evening.

sports@dailylobo.com

The UNM Police Department on Tuesday afternoon arrested another football player in connection to an April 13 sexual assault.

UNMPD charged SaQwan Edwards, a 21-year-old senior cornerback, with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual penetration and one count of kidnapping, Lt. Tim Stump announced Tuesday evening in Scholes Hall. The UNMPD spokesman said Edwards turned himself in to police that evening.

UNM running back Crusoe Gongbay and former UNM student Ryan Ruff face the same charges after their arrests last week. Stump said Gongbay and Ruff also turned themselves into police, and were later released on bond.

No bond has been set for Edwards, Stump said. Lobo football coach Bob Davie said in a statement that Edwards, like Gongbay, has been suspended.

“In accordance with policy, SaQwan Edwards has been suspended indefinitely from our football program,” Davie said.

According to arrest warrants and criminal complaint affidavits for Gongbay and Ruff, obtained from Metropolitan Court by the Daily Lobo, the three suspects drove to a house party near Constitution Avenue and Monroe Street, started talking to the victim and coerced her into getting into a blue BMW.

From there, the affidavit states, the third suspect, now identified as Edwards, forced the victim to have sex at the encouragement of Gongbay and Ruff. The affidavit states Ruff dropped Gongbay and Edwards off, and Ruff drove to the UNM campus. At this point, the affidavit states, Ruff pointed a gun at the victim’s head and forced her to have sex with him.

A UNM press release stated the victim returned to her dorm just before 3 a.m. and then notified a community assistant of the incident.

Stump said UNMPD is still looking for the dark blue BMW, but did not have any additional information on the vehicle. Stump said the department is accepting tips anonymously at police.unm.edu or by phone at 277-2241. UNMPD is also looking for social media posts that could be connected to the incident, he said.

“I think there’s information of that evening, and it could be things leading up to that night or that particular incident that we’ve heard about, that we’ve not been able to see or get,” he said.

UNM Communications Director Dianne Anderson said results have not yet been from the state crime lab, and Stump said that processing could take weeks or months to complete.

In 2013, Edwards switched from wide receiver to cornerback. He started 11 games at defensive back last season for the Lobos and finished the year with 42 tackles, two sacks, four pass breakups and an interception.

Edwards scored the first touchdown of the 2013 season for UNM, a 45-yard fumble recovery against the University of Texas-San Antonio in the season-opener.

Anderson said Gongbay and Edwards have not been suspended from school. Ruff has not attended class at the University since the spring 2013 semester, Anderson said citing University records, and there’s no indication whether he completed the semester.

The University is conducting a separate investigation into whether Gongbay and Edwards are in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, according the press release. If they are found responsible of any violations, they could face disciplinary action that could include expulsion or a campus ban.

UNMPD will also continue its investigation in the case, and Stump said he hopes the incident lets students feel safer about coming forward when sexual assault happens.

“A lot of times in these cases, they (victims) don’t want to come forward, and we encourage them to,” he said. “We have many facets in place for them to come forward and report crimes of this nature. The quicker they report it, the better it is for us and the better evidence can be captured.”