By Polly Keary, Editor
Carlos Martinez, once a popular and trusted police officer and school board member in Monroe, has been arrested for a relationship he began 10 years ago with a child he met while serving as a DARE cop in the Monroe School District.
The news came as a shock to many people in Monroe, who remember the officer, now a resident of Texas, as a gregarious and engaging individual.
School board member and DARE cop
Martinez served on the Monroe police force for 20 years, and in 2006, then 52, he was unanimously appointed to the Monroe School District Board of Directors to fill a spot vacated by board member Dean Adams, whose legacy coincidentally was also clouded by scandal after his conviction for forging a judge’s signature on documents at his law practice.
Other candidates had included Joel Selling, Paul Challancin and Carl Zaremba, all of whom also had long records of volunteerism in the community.
“His passion for young people and public education was so evident during his interview,” said school board president Tom MacIntyre at the time. “That Carlos lives and works in the community was also a definite plus in our minds.”
The father of three had also served 28 years in the military before retiring with the rank of major.
In 2007, Martinez campaigned to keep the seat to which he had been appointed.
The Los Angeles native cited as his principal goal the improvement in understanding between the Hispanic community and the community at large.
At the time, he had two children, then 2 and 9, in the school district, and he advocated greeting growth with alternative education options such as virtual high school and alternative schools.
He lost that race to Debra Kolrud, however, who held the position for four years before losing a race last year to Nancy Truitt Pierce.
But when Martinez quietly left the force, it was under a cloud.
In 2009, an allegation of domestic violence resulted in an internal investigation, and Martinez was forced into retirement.
“When he retired we had an agreement that the investigation would stop,” said Monroe Police Chief Tim Quenzer. “He resigned and retired and went in the Army.”
Trouble in Texas leads to investigation
Quenzer heard no more about Martinez until a year ago, when he was contacted by both the Army and the Washington State Patrol in regards to another investigation being conducted on the former officer.
In 2012, Martinez was arrested in the San Antonio area of Texas by an FBI task force after a woman, 22, went to police in 2011 and said she was in a physically abusive relationship with Martinez, and said that it had been a sexual relationship since she was 14, and that the officer had taken explicit pictures of her.
A search warrant yielded several explicit photos taken when she was younger than 16, and Martinez was arrested for possession of child pornography. He posted $15,000 bail, and a grand jury later dismissed the charges, believing there was not enough evidence to win a conviction.
But at the same time, the Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children’s Task Force opened an investigation.
June 26, the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges of voyeurism, child molestation in the third degree and sexual exploitation of a minor against Martinez, alleging that he used his position as a DARE officer to access and groom a child victim, eventually photographing her while in the bathroom without her consent or knowledge, then having sexual contact with her while she was still a minor and capturing images of sexually explicit conduct with her before she was 16.
According to court documents, prosecutors now believe that Martinez gulled people around his victim into thinking that he was trying to help a misguided child, while instead he was exploiting her sexually.
“Martinez had a pattern of similar activities with other ‘babysitters’ and females in the Monroe area,” the document states.
On May 20, 2004, two years before his appointment to the school board, the prosecutor alleges that he committed third degree rape of a child.
The victim said that she twice went to school counselors asking for help, and was referred to Child Protective Services. But the CPS employee, the victim said, was actually in a romantic relationship with Martinez.
The Washington CPS has stated that the employee in question has not been employed there for the last four years, and said they don’t plan an internal investigation. The Monroe School District wasn’t able to find record of the interaction between the victim, the school counselor and CPS. And Monroe police have no record of a referral involving the victim in 2004.
The victim also told police that Martinez had begun grooming her since well before he made sexual advances, beginning when she was in grade 5. He also made VHS recordings of her, unbeknownst to her, while she was in the bathroom at the age of 15. He continued to make pornographic videos and photos of her in following years, she stated, images which were recovered by police.
Quenzer said he was horrified by the account of Martinez’ actions.
“I tell you it’s absolutely disgusting,” he said. “We are very disgusted and disappointed in his alleged actions. He took advantage of a lot of people.”
More resources now available for children who seek help
When a girl in 2004 sought help from school counselors, trying to report that she’d been sexually exploited by a DARE officer, she was referred to CPS, but the CPS agent was not helpful, as she was herself in a romantic relationship with the officer, the girl reported years later to police.
While the school district did all it could at the time, today the young person might have had a few more resources available to her, said Rosemary O’Neil, spokesperson for the Monroe School District.
“One of the things we’d like to highlight is, as adults, we must take our responsibilities seriously to help kids grow up to have a successful future,” she said. “There is now a system to report concerns in several ways. They can do it by text, telephone, or even the district’s website.”
During the school year students can go to school counselors for help, but year round now, through a service called SafeSchoolsAlert, children can seek help through electronic media.
Furthermore, the service is available not only for those who have been or are being victimized by someone, they can be used to report concerns about situations one has observed.
What is not legal and when you can get help:
If you have had a sexual experience of any kind involving someone too old to legally have contact with you, or someone with whom you said you did not want to have that contact, or if you have been the victim of any of the above crimes, you are not alone by any means. In fact, as many as one in four women and one in six men have experienced sexual abuse at some point while they were children. A third were abused by members of their own family. Just about two thirds were abused by someone they knew, such as a friend of the family, a babysitter or a neighbor. One out of 10 people abused as children were abused by strangers.
It’s important to get help, even if you feel like you’re okay now. A lot of times, people don’t start having serious problems until years later. Some problems that are common are feeling guilty over what happened, blaming yourself for what happened, having nightmares, not being able to sleep, being scared of places or people that remind you of being abused, and feeling bad about yourself.
Later on, people who have been exploited sexually tend to have a lot more trouble with addiction, depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and other problems.
How to ask for help:
To text a concern or report to SafeSchoolsAlert, text your message to ALERT1 or 253781. Begin your message with the phrase #1003 @tip followed by your tip.
To email a concern or report to SafeSchoolsAlert: send an email to email@example.com.
To report a concern or ask for help via the web: Go to https://monroe-wa.safeschoolsalert.com/access#ticket_options%5Bsimple%5D=false&new_ticket=. There, select one of three options, General Tip; Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying; or Safety. A short, simple form will pop up that you can fill out.
To report a concern or ask for help by phone from SafeSchoolsAlert, Call 1 (855) 4ALERT1 (1 (855) 425-3781). Please have your district code ready: 1003. You will need to provide it to the operator who will assist you with your submission.
911: It is always okay to call 911 if you have been the victim of a crime. For a list of what is a crime, see above (What is not legal and when you can get help). You have the right to report any of those things to 911, and you can get help for anything that troubles you about what has occurred, or what you fear may occur in the future
Tell a safe adult. Certain people in certain professions have to report anything you tell them to authorities. That includes your doctor, pastor, dentist, teacher, counselor, babysitter, camp counselor, pharmacist, probation officer, police officer, coach and social worker. You can tell your parent, if your parent is a safe person to talk to.
CPS: You can make a report directly to Child Protective Services at 1 (800) 562-5624.
Another agency to which to turn for help is Childhelp USA. Call 1 (800) 4-A-CHILD (1 422-4453).
If you don’t know who is best to talk to, call Providence Intervention Center 24-hour Crisis Line at 1 (425) 252-4800, or toll free at 1 (800) 656 HOPE (4673). Someone there will help you figure out who to call and what to do.
You may be referred to CPS. Remember that if you do not get the help you feel you need by contacting CPS, or if you have been referred to CPS and you don’t feel good about the person handling your case, or if you’d simply prefer it, you can go directly to police.
The Monroe Police Department can be reached at (360) 794-6300. You can make an anonymous tip at (360) 863-4600.
Once you ask for help, things can sometimes get a little confusing. You might get a caseworker, and you might or might not wind up helping with a police investigation. No matter what happens, there is a place called Dawson Place in Everett that can help you with everything you need, from seeing a doctor to talking to police or getting counseling. They will be very nice to you there. Everyone there, including police officers, counselors, doctors and staff, is specially trained to help people in your situation. They even sometimes have a friendly dog there just so you can pet it if it makes you feel better. Typically you have to get referred there by another agency, like the police or CPS. Providence Intervention Center (see above) knows all about Dawson Place. Or you can call Dawson Place directly at 1 (425) 388-7497 to find out how to access services there. Look them up at http://www.dawsonplace.org.