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Lawsuit over ex-cop’s child sex abuse says state worker negligent for not reporting it

MONROE — A tort lawsuit can proceed against the state of Washington that says a social worker who was mandated by law to report child sex abuse failed to do so when it came to Carlos Martinez, a former sergeant with the Monroe Police Department, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Cindy Larsen decided last week.
In 2015, Martinez was convicted to 14 months in prison for having pictures of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Fourteen months was the maximum allowable sentence by law at the time.
The negligence lawsuit was filed in 2019.
In January, state attorneys filed to get the case dismissed. Larsen denied the dismissal.
Now a young woman, the female victim's attorneys contend that if the state worker had spoken up, authorities could have intervened while Martinez, 68, was grooming her in the early 2000s.
The state’s attorneys say the department is clear of negligence because although its employee suspected inappropriate relations between the child and the man, she was never explicitly told it was happening. They also argue the child wasn’t a ward of the state so they weren’t responsible for her care.
She also knew everyone involved.
The employee, a Child Protective Services investigator, was friends with Martinez’s wife at the time and had met the female victim. She was intimately familiar with Martinez.
Key to the case against the state is that the CPS worker once approached the girl’s school counselor about her suspicions about Martinez.
The young woman had met Martinez in junior high when he did drug-prevention presentations in schools. He also was a school resource office.
The then-teen girl became his and his wife’s babysitter and occasional home farm laborer. Later, he began inappropriately touching her and secretly recording her in his family’s home bathroom when she showered after working the farm.
Around when she turned 20, she and him relocated to Texas in a relationship after Martinez exited the police force. She turned Martinez in to Texas authorities in 2011.
The state’s mandatory reporter law requires people in specific job fields to always immediately report suspected physical or sexual abuse. These mandatory reporters include public school employees, state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) employees and health care providers.
Attorneys for the state, though, write the employee “did not have any duty to report suspected child abuse when she was not performing her professional role for CPS.”
They note there are only two credible causes in state law to file a negligence lawsuit against the state Department of Child, Youth and Families: If someone within the department receives a claim of child abuse and it is ignored, or if there is negligence by the department involving a child in foster care custody.
They assert this case fits neither: Martinez’s victim wasn’t a ward of the state and the department never received an abuse report.
The young woman involved is now 34 and works as a law enforcement officer in the National Parks System. Martinez didn’t let go then, filing a complaint to the parks service saying she was unfit to be a law enforcement officer. 
The Tribune is not naming the woman because the incidents occurred when she was a minor.
A trial date is in September.
From outward appearance, Martinez was a charismatic pillar of the community. He was a police officer for 20 years and had a short stint on the Monroe School Board (he lost a 2007 election bid to keep the seat.) The police force had Martinez retire in 2009, before the sex abuse case became public, for a separate allegation, according to KING 5 television. Because of his conviction, he had to register as a sex offender.

— This story includes past Tribune reporting



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