A National Guardsman who was part of a deployment to the border last spring was charged this week with one count of assault after he allegedly touched a female colleague inappropriately at a Nogales hotel in July.
Blake Jonathan Raymond, a 23-year-old member of a National Guard unit based in Superior, Wis., was charged with assault/unlawful touching, a Class 3 misdemeanor, in a complaint filed by Nogales police at City Court on Dec. 5. The case is being prosecuted by the Nogales City Attorney’s Office.
According to a Nogales Police Department investigative report obtained through a public records request, a group of seven National Guard soldiers were drinking in a patio area beside the hotel pool after midnight on July 23, when a few of them began a “massage train” to rub each other’s shoulders.
At one point, Raymond sat on a chair behind the alleged victim to give her a massage and began to get “touchy, feely” with her, witnesses recounted to an investigating officer.
The victim stated during an interview that she could feel Raymond’s hands reach down near her breasts, after which “she grabbed his hands and stopped him from going further.”
Another soldier who witnessed the incident said he yelled, “Raymond, what the (expletive) are you doing?” after he allegedly saw him “attempt to go into (the victim’s) bikini bottom with his finger,” the investigating officer wrote.
Raymond reportedly told the officer that he never touched the woman’s breasts, nor did his hands go under her shorts. However, he said he believed she was leading him to “further interaction.”
“He sent (the victim) a message via Snapchat social media inviting her to his room, however she never responded, so he went to sleep,” the officer wrote in his report.
The victim said “she felt uncomfortable, scared and offended” by Raymond’s actions, according to the officer, but she was initially hesitant to report the incident and get others in trouble.
A National Guard staff sergeant who was apparently in charge of the group told NPD he was concerned enough by the incident that he moved the female soldiers to another hotel.
In April, President Trump signed an order requesting a National Guard troop deployment to the U.S.-Mexico border following a tweet-storm of complaints about border security. Some of those troops ended up and remain in the Nogales area, where they have provided non-law-enforcement support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Border Patrol. In late October, Trump ordered active-duty military to the border as well.
Raymond was summoned to appear at Nogales City Court on the assault/unlawful touching charge on Dec. 19. A conviction for a Class 3 misdemeanor can be punished by up to a year of probation, 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
County Attorney George Silva told the NI in an email that he initially reviewed the evidence against Raymond and decided not to file felony charges. He then referred the case to the Nogales City Attorney’s Office to determine if misdemeanor charges were appropriate.