Sex abuse charges against ex-school official prompt review

FILE - This Jan. 29, 2015 file photo shows New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas talking during a news conference in Albuquerque, N.M. Balderas, is launching an investigation into how the state's largest school district hired a high-level administrator who faces child sex abuse charges. Balderas announced Monday, Aug. 24, his office will look into why Albuquerque Public Schools' safety protocols were breached and Jason Martinez was hired in June before a background check was completed. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)
FILE - This Jan. 29, 2015 file photo shows New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas talking during a news conference in Albuquerque, N.M. Balderas, is launching an investigation into how the state's largest school district hired a high-level administrator who faces child sex abuse charges. Balderas announced Monday, Aug. 24, his office will look into why Albuquerque Public Schools' safety protocols were breached and Jason Martinez was hired in June before a background check was completed. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A longtime school administrator from Denver brought the professional credentials to become deputy superintendent in New Mexico’s largest school district this summer. But there was more to his background: an arrest record that includes child sex abuse and domestic violence charges in Colorado that emerged publicly after his recent resignation from his post last week in Albuquerque.

Jason Martinez’s appointment to head the Albuquerque School District’s instruction and technology division in June has prompted review into how a public employee could be hired at a district serving some 90,000 students with accusations as serious as those he is facing. He resigned abruptly last week from his position at Albuquerque schools, where his annual salary had been set at $163,000, said Rigo Chavez, a spokesman for Albuquerque Public Schools.

Gov. Susana Martinez (no relation) on Tuesday ordered an immediate, across-the-board review of whether New Mexico school districts are conducting timely criminal background checks when hiring new employees, and the state attorney general said Monday his office would investigate why Jason Martinez was hired before a background check was completed.

Parents, meanwhile, began circulating an online petition this week calling for Superintendent Luis Valentino’s resignation, collecting more than 1,500 signatures.

The school board plans to vote Thursday on whether the superintendent should be dismissed.

“It’s upsetting to know someone would be allowed to even walk in the doors with that record,” said Angela Gonzales-Carver, a parent advocate from Albuquerque who serves on a programs committee for the National Parent Teacher Association.

Martinez shouldn’t have even been in New Mexico, according to terms of a bail agreement that forbade him from leaving Colorado, where he’s scheduled to stand trial on the sex abuse charges Oct. 9.

He was arrested in Denver in July 2013 on suspicion of sexual assault involving two children – one who an affadavit says was assaulted while in Martinez’s care and the other on a trip to Las Vegas.

A Denver judge issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for Martinez, who violated terms of his bail when he left the state and failed to file a required report for an address change.

The judge also revoked two $50,000 bonds posted by Martinez for his 2013 arrest and a domestic violence arrest in which he allegedly struck two men in a Denver nightclub district in January. The next hearing in that case is scheduled for Oct. 18.

His whereabouts weren’t immediately known Tuesday morning, said district attorney’s spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough.

One alleged sex abuse victim told police he came forward because “Jay has been touching people,” an affidavit said. The children knew Martinez as Jay.

According to authorities, both alleged assaults happened in 2012 and 2013 after Martinez left Denver Public Schools in 2012, where he was a grade school principal and a district administrator.

The Denver sex abuse case does not involve children related to his employment with Denver Public Schools, Kimbrough said. Martinez knew the two children from family members, she said. She could not provide additional details.

She said Denver authorities contacted Martinez’s attorney, Michael Meaux, to arrange his surrender, and also alerted Albuquerque police.

Prosecutors said Martinez was not supposed to leave Colorado under his bail terms. He was not required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet after his 2013 arrest, a standard practice prior to trial.

A lawyer for Karen Rudys, the district’s interim assistant superintendent for human resources, said Valentino, the superintendent, was informed multiple times about Martinez refusing to complete his background check but ignored those concerns.

No phone listing could be found for Martinez, and a message seeking comment from his attorney, Michael Meaux, was not immediately returned.

___

Banda reported from Denver. Jim Anderson in Denver and Russell Contreras in Albuquerque also contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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