Suspect in sex assaults faces new allegations

Three accuse mentor of child molestation

Mark Bustamante

Another victim has come forward with allegations of being molested by a Mesa County man accused of molesting two other boys while he was a senior mentor at Mesa County Partners.

A third victim told investigators he was a client of Mesa Developmental Services when he was assaulted by 50-year-old Mark Bustamante.

The new case came to light when Bustamante was arraigned in court Thursday morning. Mesa County District Judge Richard Gurley increased Bustamante’s bond from $100,000 to $150,000, based on the new allegations.

Bustamante now faces three additional felony charges, including two counts of sex assault on a child by a person in a position of trust on an at-risk individual and sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust as a pattern of abuse. Bustamante was charged Thursday with six other counts of sex assault in connection with his two other victims, boys who were ages 9 and 10 when the molestations allegedly occurred.

According to charging documents, the third victim told police the molestations occurred between 2001 and 2005, before the boy was 15.

Bustamante is accused of molesting the two boys while he was a mentor at Partners between March 2010 and May of this year.

Joe Higgins, executive director of Partners, said Bustamante received positive recommendations from MDS when he applied to be a Partners volunteer.

“It was a pattern obviously,” Higgins said of the allegations. “It won’t surprise me if there are other allegations.”

Bustamante was fired from Partners after a staff member there noticed Bustamante hugging a junior mentor for no apparent reason.

Jeff Nichols, executive director of MDS, said he could not confirm whether Bustamante worked at MDS because it could be a violation of health privacy laws. Unlike Partners, MDS provides health care services that restrict the amount of information it can release about its clients, Nichols said.

Nichols did say that all employees undergo strict multi-state background checks and any candidates with questionable records are not hired.


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