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Hank Strauss, Aztec HS football coach, charged with battery against student


AZTEC − A court date of Wednesday, Sept. 28, has been set at Aztec Magistrate Court in a misdemeanor battery case involving Hank Strauss, current head football coach at Aztec High School.

Strauss, 30, in the middle of his first season as head coach of the Tigers football team, has been charged with battery against a student, according to documents obtained by the Daily-Times from the Aztec Magistrate Court.

The documents allege that on the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 2, Strauss and a female student were involved in an on-campus altercation that resulted in the student's keys being "ripped out of her hands" before Strauss threw them. That altercation, a court document stated, came about after the student was told by Strauss to not take another student off campus for lunch.

According to Dustin O’Brien, Chief Deputy District Attorney for San Juan County, the case is being treated as a misdemeanor and neither the county nor Strauss have yet retained counsel for the charge.

The probable cause affidavit against Strauss states that Deputy Gabriel Salazar of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office met with Strauss as well as the plaintiff on Thursday, Sept. 8. The officer also met with witnesses who corroborated the plaintiff's statements, and saw video footage of the alleged incident.

The affidavit states that on Sept. 2, Strauss approached both the plaintiff and another student during seventh period, several hours after both students left campus for lunch. In the statement, the plaintiff recalls Strauss approaching them, telling her to "stop taking him off campus for lunch." The plaintiff couldn't recall whether Strauss used profanity during the altercation.

The plaintiff's statement indicates she had her keys in her hand with a lanyard attached and wrapped around her wrist. The plaintiff says Strauss "grabbed the keys and ripped them out of her hands and threw them."

Strauss is then alleged to have confronted the plaintiff a second time, telling her "you think I am scary now; you have not seen anything." According to the affidavit, the plaintiff was also told by Strauss that she was "privileged" and "above everyone" and that he could "take all those privileges away."

On Tuesday, Sept. 6, after the plaintiff served her lunch detention, the document states that she was again approached by Strauss who apologized to her for the incident.

Salazar also indicates in the probable cause statement that before he read Strauss his Miranda rights, he interviewed a human resources representative from the Aztec Municipal School District as well as a couple of students who witnessed the incident between the plaintiff and Strauss. All the witnesses gave similar stories, according to the affidavit, and provided written statements that the officer read but was not allowed to take without a warrant.

Strauss was later formally charged with one count of battery.

Strauss refused comment for the story when contacted earlier this week, while voice mails and e-mails to administration members of the Aztec Municipal School District have not been returned.

The Aztec football team (2-3) will be in action on Saturday at 6 p.m. when they host St. Michael's (4-0).