Contributed Photo/Courtesy Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office: John Holder, 21, has was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for sexually abusing a child.
By Jon Johnson
CLIFTON – On Tuesday, John Holder, 21, of Clifton, was given the maximum prison sentence allowed in his plea agreement of 7.5 years for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in Greenlee County.
Holder was initially charged with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15 and one count of child molestation. On Sept. 20, he pleaded guilty to amended counts of sexual abuse – a dangerous crime against children in the first degree, a Class-3 felony, and two amended counts of attempted sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15 – a dangerous crime against children in the second degree and Class-3 felonies.
According to Holder’s plea agreement, he faced a prison sentence of between 2.5 years and 7.5 years on the amended charge of sexual abuse, with the amount to be determined by Greenlee County Superior Court Judge Monica L. Stauffer. During a sentencing hearing on Oct. 12, Judge Stauffer followed the sentencing recommendation from the probation department and gave Holder the maximum 7.5 years allowed in his plea agreement. Holder’s attorney, Channen Day, had argued for the minimum sentence and said the victim willingly engaged in sexual activity with the defendant. Holder will be eligible to earn one day of credit for every six served.
Upon his release from prison, Holder will be given lifetime sex offender probation for the two counts of attempted sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15. Each attempted sexual conduct with a minor count carries a presumptive sentence of 10 years in prison, but Holder will not serve any prison time on those counts unless his probation is revoked.
The case took more than a year after the horrific attack to find its way to the Greenlee County Superior Court courtroom.
Holder was arrested on a warrant on May 25, 2021, and booked into the Greenlee County Jail on a $200,000 bond. The case against Holder was initiated in March 2020, when a Silver City (New Mexico) Police officer called the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office about a sexual assault that occurred in Duncan, where Holder lived at the time. The victim had informed the Silver City Police that she was visiting a relative in Duncan and the relative’s boyfriend (Holder) had sexually assaulted her – causing injury. At that time, the victim was given an examination at a Silver City hospital.
A Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office investigator interviewed Holder about the sexual assault allegation on March 23, 2020, but then the investigation stalled until January when the New Mexico State Police re-interviewed the victim with a forensic interviewer at the request of Greenlee County Attorney Jeremy Ford.
According to the victim’s account to authorities, Holder viciously sexually assaulted her in a trailer house on March 6, 2020, after her relative had left to go to work. She said Holder initially asked if she wanted to play video games but while doing so he overpowered her against her will and raped her.
After being interviewed a second time, a warrant was issued for Holder’s arrest on May 25, 2021, and he was taken into custody. Holder waived his right to a preliminary hearing on June 10, 2021, and the matter was bound over to Greenlee County Superior Court. Holder was then arraigned on the charges on June 14, 2021. Attorney Channen Day represented Holder, while the prosecution was led by Greenlee County Attorney Jeremy Ford.
According to the plea, Holder admitted to engaging in sexual contact with the child (sexual abuse) and attempting to engage in both vaginal and anal intercourse (attempted sexual conduct with a minor).