Border city mayor denies role in 1948 rape of Zuni girl
The mayor of a city near Zuni Pueblo continues to deny his role in a 1948 rape of a 16-year-old girl from the reservation but The Gallup Independent says court documents paint a different story.

Gallup, New Mexico, Mayor Harry Mendoza admits he was arrested and jailed in connection with the incident. But he says he was never charged and wasn't involved in the crime.

However, Mendoza's name appears among seven males who were charged with the rape the following year. For whatever reason, he was never brought to trial even though five others were convicted.

Mendoza at one point suggested he was mistakenly identified as a participant because his name is similar to that of "Henry Montano," who was among those charged. He points to a declaration by one defendant in which his name was stricken out.

“I, along with several other Hispanic males, were detained, questioned, and physically examined by the local police. I indeed spent a night in jail and then was released. I did know of and was acquainted with some of the participants in the rape case. I have no idea why Sammie Lucero’s statement mistakenly mentions me and later has my name lined out and another substituted,” Mendoza said in a statement to local media outlets, the Independent reported.

The Independent posted a large PDF of a number of court documents that, for the first time, identify the rape victim as someone from Zuni Pueblo who attended Santa Fe Indian School. Previously, the paper only said the victim was a Native girl -- Gallup is also near the Navajo Nation.

The Independent and Mendoza have feuded over the incident, leading to a fist fight between publisher Robert Zollinger and Mendoza earlier this month. Parts of the fight were caught on video.

Get the Story:
Records: Mendoza involved in rape (The Gallup Independent 1/23)

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Mayor was charged with 1948 rape of Native girl (6/25)