Investigators look to see if signs of abuse were ignored

MONROE — Investigators are trying to determine whether warning signs were ignored years ago when a former Monroe police sergeant allegedly used his role as a DARE officer to ensnare a young woman into a sexual relationship that began when she was 14.

Former Monroe police Sgt. Carlos Martinez, 58, was charged Wednesday in a Snohomish County District Court with voyeurism, child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor for incidents that allegedly began in 2003.

The abuse allegedly took place over nearly 10 years after Martinez met the girl at her school. It reportedly continued in Texas, where she shared a home with him for a time, according to court papers.

Detectives with the Washington State Patrol began investigating Martinez in March 2012 after he was arrested, but never charged, when suspected child pornography involving the same girl was found in his Texas home. She’s now 24.

A report prepared by State Patrol detectives, and relied upon by Snohomish County prosecutors to file charges, says that early on, the girl twice told a Monroe school counselor what was happening. The counselor reportedly went to a state Child Protective Services employee, but that worker “was allegedly in a romantic relationship” with Martinez, according to the patrol’s report.

Some familiar with the case privately say there are reasons to doubt whether adults were specifically told about abuse.

The social worker quit the agency about four years ago, said Mindy Chambers, a spokeswoman for the Children’s Administration within the state Department of Social and Health Services.

CPS officials have spoken with detectives, Chambers said. No internal review is planned.

Chambers said she could not comment further about CPS’s involvement with the girl because of confidentiality.

The Monroe School District no longer has records from when the student reportedly met with a counselor, school officials said.

“We take our responsibility about keeping students safe very seriously,” district spokeswoman Rosemary O’Neil said. “I believe that the school staff involved took whatever was told to them seriously and followed state law and school policy in reporting it.”

Martinez left the Monroe Police Department in 2009 in connection with an unrelated domestic violence investigation, Police Chief Tim Quenzer said.

“Child Protective Services did not notify the police department of any inappropriate activity with the victim and Martinez,” the chief said Thursday.

The department should have been notified after the girl talked with the counselor, he said.

Detectives have found no indication that Monroe police ignored any report or overt indication of sexual misconduct in the case, patrol spokesman Bob Calkins said.

Quenzer, who has been chief since 2002, said he first learned of the allegations when the State Patrol began investigating last year.

Eric Stevick contributed to this story.

Rikki King, 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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