Former Monroe police officer convicted of sex crimes

EVERETT — A former Monroe police sergeant was found guilty Tuesday of two sex crimes for secretly videotaping a teenage babysitter while she took showers in his bathroom 11 years ago.

But whether both verdicts will count at Carlos Alberto Martinez’ Dec. 21 sentencing wasn’t immediately clear.

The jury found Martinez guilty of voyeurism and possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Both are felonies.

However, jurors also reached a special verdict, finding that prosecutors did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Martinez’ victim learned of the voyeurism within the statute of limitations.

The defense had maintained that the former babysitter, now 26, knew about the filming as early as July 2007. She testified that Martinez did not tell her about the secret recording until late 2011.

Lawyers disagreed on the legal meaning of the verdicts.

Martinez’ attorney, Mark Mestel, told Superior Court Judge Michael Downes that he believes his client was convicted solely of the child pornography charge because of the statute of limitations finding on the voyeurism count.

Deputy prosecutor Lisa Paul said after the hearing that she needs to do some legal research, but she believes both guilty verdicts count as convictions.

Martinez faces up to a year in jail at sentencing, she said.

Martinez worked for the Monroe Police Department for 20 years. He spent much of that time teaching anti-drug classes and was once so well respected that he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the school board. Now a convicted felon, he was ordered Tuesday to have no contact with the young woman and other state witnesses and to no longer own or control firearms.

Downes granted a defense request to allow Martinez to remain free pending sentencing, provided he surrendered his passport by Tuesday afternoon and posted $50,000 bond by Thursday.

“The court is probably aware there are a myriad of issues that will be raised on appeal,” Mestel said.

He told the judge he plans to ask that Martinez remain free after sentencing while pursuing his appeals.

Downes told the lawyers he’ll need more information before making a decision.

Martinez’ trial lasted more than two weeks. It explored his link to a woman whom he met when she was 10 and a student in a Monroe elementary school drug-abuse resistance class.

On the witness stand, Martinez admitted secretly videotaping her multiple times in 2004 while she took showers at his home. She was then 15 and working as the family babysitter.

He testified there was no sexual motivation and that he made the tapes looking for signs that the girl was cutting herself.

Prosecutors maintained Martinez had for years groomed the babysitter for sex, and that he made the tapes for his sexual gratification.

The woman moved to Texas in 2009 to live with Martinez as his girlfriend. She testified he began sexually touching her when she was in her early teens and about how confused and conflicted she was regarding their connection.

Martinez testified the young woman sought out the relationship and he denied any sexual contact with her until about a month after her 18th birthday. At the time, she was a senior in high school. He was 52 and married.

The Washington State Patrol began investigating Martinez in 2012 after being contacted by an FBI task force based in Texas. Martinez was charged here not only with voyeurism and child pornography, but also with multiple counts of child molestation and child rape, starting as early as 2003.

Paul dismissed most of the charges on the eve of trial. There were statute of limitations concerns, but the decision also appears to have been strategic.

The young woman testified about years of sexual activity with Martinez but was inconsistent, particularly regarding the timing of specific events.

Martinez’ testimony also raised questions. He insisted he had no sexual interest in the young woman when she was 15, but jurors were shown a video Martinez made telling her how much he “loved” her breasts, and how he had “imagined them,” even before she was sexually mature.

Mestel provided Martinez with a vigorous defense, raising questions about the young woman’s motives and the quality of the investigation. Prior to trial he urged Downes to dismiss the case. He said his client’s right to a fair trial had been irreparably harmed when Paul reviewed emails between Martinez and his attorney in a 2010 divorce. The messages were seized under search warrants for the defendant’s computers and digital accounts. Downes conducted multiple hearings and reviewed more than 6,000 emails before concluding there was no harm. He praised Paul’s honesty for alerting Mestel to the potential problem.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.

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