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Durango woman visiting San Juan College dorm is choked during party

Police report says alcohol was on campus, and resident witnessed attack
A common area at the Nizhoni Sunrise Suites student housing at San Juan College.

The Nizhoni Sunrise Suites opened in August for campus housing at San Juan College, which has strict rules against drug and alcohol use on campus.

However, two weeks after the second semester started, police were called to the dormitory, which houses 138 students, in response to a drunken party that led to a Durango woman being choked in the third-floor hallway, according to police records.

Farmington Police responded at 12:51 a.m. Jan. 30 to the dorm for a domestic dispute. Upon arrival they learned “an altercation had taken place on the third floor of the dorms,” according to the statement of probable cause.

Police began their investigation and learned that Fort Lewis College student Kara Banketewa visited Farmington to stay with Javin Roberts, 19, in his dorm room, which was on the third floor.

She reportedly told police that she was in Roberts’ room with several other people who were “consuming alcohol,” according to the statement of probable cause.

Roberts reportedly “became upset and began to argue with her (Banketewa) and claimed she was flirting with his friends,” so Banketewa left the room and went into the hallway, court records state.

Roberts reportedly followed her into the hallway chased her and “then tackled her and tossed her onto the hallway floor,” the report states. He then, allegedly “wrapped both his hands around her neck and began to squeeze,” continuing to apply pressure for about 30 seconds.

Banketewa admitted to police that she “panicked” and slapped Roberts to make him stop. Once he did, she walked to the third-floor stairwell and was contacted by campus security.

Another third-floor resident reportedly witnessed the attack on Banketewa and contacted the resident assistant.

Resident assistants “live in housing and are on call from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., weekdays and 24 hours on weekends and holidays,” said Rhonda Schaefer, senior director of marketing and public relations at the college.

“The resident assistant is the first point of contact,” said Schaefer, who said everyone who resides at Nizhoni Sunrise is “provided information regarding safety and security protocols” at the beginning of the semester during housing meetings.

When someone does not follow those protocols by having drugs or alcohol on campus, they are “subject to disciplinary actions,” Schaefer said, adding the college would not comment on Roberts’ status at the school or the dorms, because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Schaefer added that all residents of Nizhoni Sunrise Suites are full-time students. They are required to fill out an application form to live in the dorm, and the college “performs criminal background checks on all individuals who apply to live in on-campus student housing.”

Farmington Police questioned Roberts, who appeared “in distress and emotional,” in the common area of the dorms, according to the statement of probable cause. He also denied placing his hands on Banketewa, but told police, “She slapped me, but I don’t want to file charges.”

Police told Roberts there was a witness to the act, but he continued to deny it. Police arrested Roberts and charged him with aggravated battery, police reports state.

Schaefer said the college has 24-hour campus security and there are security cameras in the residence hall. She also stated that “immediate and ongoing support services and counseling are made available to all students and employees who may be affected by a given situation,” such as this.

Schaefer added that “at San Juan College we continuously review our policies and procedures to keep current with the latest regulations and best practices.”