Police union leader pleads not guilty to child abuse

The president of Albuquerque’s police union pleaded not guilty to child abuse and intimidation of a witness charges during her first appearance in court Saturday morning.

Stephanie Lopez, who has been released from jail after posting a $5,000 cash-only bond, entered the plea in an appearance in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court.

She was arrested Thursday evening on two felony charges after she allegedly struck her 14-year-old daughter multiple times in the face, pulled her hair and threw her to the ground during an argument earlier in the week, according to a criminal complaint filed by a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office detective.

She allegedly warned the girl not to say anything when she dropped her off at school on Wednesday morning, the day after the incident, according to the complaint.

Lopez is charged with child abuse without causing great bodily harm and bribery or intimidation of a witness.

Lopez and her attorney, Fred Mowrer, declined to comment after the Saturday hearing.

The state has 60 days to indict Lopez on the charges.

At the hearing, Chief Judge Henry Alaniz told Lopez not to possess firearms or have any contact with the alleged victim in the case or the witnesses, which include Lopez’s other children, unless it is permitted by the state Children Youth and Families Department.

CYFD officials responded to the school when the alleged abuse was first reported, according to the complaint.

BCSO Capt. Joshua Campos said CYFD took custody of the children, and the agency will decide where to place them.

Court officials told the judge that Lopez had been arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges in 1994 but she wasn’t convicted, and she has failed to appear in court for a traffic violation.

A spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office couldn’t confirm on Saturday what the charges were in Lopez’s prior arrest.

Lopez was placed on paid administrative leave from the police department on Friday. She is also on leave from her position as president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association.

She has been a police officer since 2000 and has been the union president since May 2013.

Shaun Willoughby, the vice president of the police union, has been named acting president.

Toni Balzano, a spokeswoman for the union, said the future of Lopez’s position with the union may be determined this week.

Source: http://www.abqjournal.com/690599/news/police-union-leader-pleads-not-guilty-to-child-abuse.html