LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico high school teacher has been arrested after a student claimed he sexually assaulted her. “It’s just crazy I wouldn’t believe a teacher could do this especially in our school,” said Janelle Sittinghawk, who graduated from Valencia High School in 2018.
Sittinghawk knew 50-year-old Lawrence Larson as a kind dad, who she felt comfortable around. “He was actually a really nice guy, I was best friends with his daughter,” said Sittinghawk.
However, she says not everyone felt the same way she did. “I know a lot of girls felt uncomfortable around him,” said Sittinghawk.
According to New Mexico State Police, last Thursday, a 16-year-old female student said Larson touched her twice between her legs while in a classroom. The girl says she felt uncomfortable and went to the weight room, which is connected to Larson’s classroom.
The girl claims Larson followed her and pushed her to the ground before grabbing her breast and holding her down. The student told State Police she was able to fight Larson off.
However, as she tried to get away, Larson allegedly held her back and slapped her butt. “That’s what I thought was crazy. I mean he followed her and still insisted on abusing her the way he did,” said Dolores, who lives in Valencia County.
State police say Larson admitted to touching the area around the girl’s breast, hip and thigh. “For someone to abuse a child like that a young girl, that’s wrong,” said Dolores.
Los Lunas Schools didn’t specify how long he had been a substitute or what team he coaches but did say Larson has been fired. Larson was booked into the Valencia County Detention Center on a no-bond hold. He is charged with criminal sexual contact of a minor and false imprisonment.