Former NMSU basketball players charged with rape and other sex crimes

Nov. 9—Three former New Mexico State basketball players are charged with rape and myriad other sex crimes, according to documents filed Thursday in 3rd Judicial District Court in Doña Ana County.

A grand jury indicted Deshawndre Washington, Doctor Bradley and Kim Aiken Jr., all members of the 2022-23 NMSU men's team, and all alleged in civil lawsuits to have taken part in acts intended to humiliate teammates.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office has been investigating Washington, Bradley and Aiken since the hazing allegations came to light in February.

After the allegations became public, NMSU abruptly canceled the men's basketball season and fired head coach Greg Heiar, the university settled with two former players and the father of one of those players for millions of dollars, and at least two other players and a student manager have filed a civil suit, claiming they too were victims of sexual assault.

Washington — who has been described in civil lawsuits as the ringleader — Bradley and Aiken are each charged with second-degree criminal sexual penetration, or rape, stemming from an incident on Nov. 12, 2022.

Washington, Bradley and Aiken are also each charged with four counts of false imprisonment, four counts of criminal sexual contact, one count of conspiracy to commit criminal sexual contact and one count of conspiracy to commit false imprisonment — all fourth-degree felonies. Washington and Bradley each are charged with one additional count of both false imprisonment and criminal sexual contact.

The incidents happened between Aug. 8, 2022, and Nov. 18, 2022.

According to the charging documents, Washington, Bradley and Aiken are accused of the most serious charge, rape, because they are alleged to have forcibly penetrated, by use of any object, another person, and were aided or abetted by another.

Washington, Bradley and Aiken are charged with criminal sexual contact because they allegedly touched or applied force to the scrotums of other people — whose names have been removed from the charging documents.

Earlier this year, the university reached a settlement in a lawsuit brought by William Benjamin, a former basketball star who played for the Aggies in the late 1980s and early 1990s; his son, William "Deuce" Benjamin Jr.; and Shakiru Odunewu. Benjamin Jr. and Odunewu were players on last year's NMSU team.

The allegations in the lawsuit, as well as those contained in a police report, describe hazing that rose to the level of sexual assault. The two players reported that their clothing and underwear were removed and their buttocks slapped by their teammates.

Benjamin and Odunewu said in the lawsuit the assaults were carried out for several months. They said coaches knew about what was going on but didn't do anything to stop it.

The university settled for $8 million between the Benjamins and Odenewu.

On Monday, two other former NMSU basketball players and a student manager filed a lawsuit saying their teammates frequently brought guns into the locker room where they sexually assaulted players as a way of ensuring everyone on the team remained "humble."

Kyle Feit, along with a teammate and student manager who did not want their names used, filed the lawsuit in district court in Las Cruces, against the school, its athletic director, Mario Moccia, and former coaches and players. All but Moccia were fired or left last season; Moccia received a contract extension and a raise.

The new lawsuit claims that in addition to being assaulted in much the same way as Benjamin and Odunewu, guns were a regular presence in the locker room and elsewhere on campus and on team trips. The lawsuit describes Feit as having guns pointed at him from inside car windows three times as he was walking across campus.

Guns are not allowed on New Mexico State's campus, nor on trips involving school activities. The school's enforcement of that rule came under increased scrutiny when former player Mike Peake shot and killed a University of New Mexico student in the early morning hours of last Nov. 19 while the team was on a road trip in Albuquerque. Peake was not charged with a crime because video showed he was acting in self-defense.

After the Peake shooting, the lawsuit says, "the presence of guns (within the team) became even more real and menacing. (Feit) knew his teammates were in fear of retribution for the shooting and the atmosphere was very tense."

The lawsuit was filed less than a week after the revelation that Washington, Bradley and Aiken were found responsible for sexual misconduct, according to a Title IX investigation spearheaded by the school.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that the investigation determined the players, as a way of making sure their teammates stayed "humble," would demand other players pull down their pants and expose their genitals, while also sometimes grabbing those players' genitals.

According to the Attorney General's Office, Washington, Bradley and Aiken will be sent a notice to appear in person at district court in Las Cruces for a first hearing on Nov. 22.

Washington and Aiken are not playing collegiate basketball this season.

Bradley had been on the Nicholls State University basketball team in Louisiana, but on Wednesday, the The Nicholls Worth, the independent student newspaper, reported that he had been suspended indefinitely.

His suspension was prior to the AG's Office filing charges.

The Associated Press and Journal Staff Writer Geoff Grammer contributed to this report.