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Former Doña Ana County Sheriff’s deputy pleads guilty to sexually assaulting woman, attempting to destroy evidence

Doña Ana County Detention Center

DOÑA ANA COUNTY, New Mexico (KVIA) -- A former deputy for the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating the rights of a female arrestee by sexually assaulting her inside his patrol car.

Michael A. Martinez, 34, also pleaded guilty to obstructing justice by attempting to destroy the recording of the incident, captured by equipment inside his patrol car.

On April 30, Martinez responded to a car accident, where he arrested the victim for driving under the influence and careless driving. After taking her to medical care, he confessed to handcuffing her and putting her back in his patrol car -- where he sexually assaulted her, according to official documents.

He then took the victim to the Doña Ana County Detention Center.

Martinez also confessed to trying to destroy evidence several hours after the assault.

“Police sexual violence targeting women in their custody are heinous crimes that have no place in our society,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This defendant weaponized his authority, exploited the power of his badge, handcuffed the victim and assaulted her in the backseat of his vehicle."

Martinez is expected to be sentenced at a later date. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and up to three years of supervised release.

“Law enforcement officers serve the innocent and guilty alike” said U.S. Attorney Alexander M. M. Uballez for the District of New Mexico. “Being accused of a crime does not deprive you of the basic human right to dignity and respect. If you abuse your position of authority and betray the oath you swore to the public by sexually assaulting those in your charge, your badge will not shield you from justice.”

“Civil rights violations, particularly when they involve a member of law enforcement, are of tremendous concern,” said Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office. “The entire law enforcement profession is tarnished when an officer betrays the oath to protect and serve. The FBI will vigorously investigate any officer or agent of the law who is breaking the rules that he or she is sworn to uphold or is violating the civil rights of others.”

"We cannot and must not normalize police sexual violence and exploitation," said Clarke. "We encourage survivors to find the courage to come forward and report these crimes to the FBI. The Justice Department stands ready to use our federal civil rights laws to seek justice and restitution for survivors of sexual misconduct by law enforcement officers and others who abuse their authority.”

Martinez must also pay restitution to the victim, and adhere to state and federal sex offender registration requirements once he is released.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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Kerry Mannix


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