Former Sheriff’s Deputy Confesses to Shocking Sexual Assault in New Mexico

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On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that an ex-New Mexico deputy sheriff had pleaded guilty to violating civil rights against a woman he sexually assaulted back in 2023. This is a horrifying example of an officer abusing their position.

Michael A. Martinez (34), also pleaded guilty to obstructing justice after trying to dismantle the WatchGuard DVR in his patrol car.

Martinez was arrested on September 20, 2023, and accused of sexual assault and kidnapping a female victim who has not been named. A report from that time reads:

A sheriff’s report of the incident, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who filed a complaint in federal court, states that Martinez responded to an accident and detained the woman driver on suspicion she was drunk and driving carelessly. Martinez took the woman to a doctor and booked her in at the county jail.

Martinez later told other sheriffs that his patrol vehicle had been damaged or robbed. A sergeant found that the DVR system and the radio of the patrol vehicle were damaged. The FBI agent says that a further investigation did not reveal any evidence of forced entry.

The DVR was recovered, and it allegedly showed a video showing Martinez sexually abusing the handcuffed female in the patrol vehicle. Martinez was allegedly fired by the court in August following this incident. He was hired by the department in November last year as a late hire.

Martinez was arrested. Martinez’s innocence is not proven by his arrest. He is innocent until proven guilty. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, he faces life imprisonment if convicted.

The Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, explained that Martinez “weaponized [his] authority, exploited (his] badge’s power, handcuffed and assaulted [the victim] in the backseat of his vehicle.”

She said: “We cannot, and we must not, normalize police sexual abuse and exploitation.”

U.S. Attorney Alexander M. Uballez, for the District of New Mexico, stated that “being accused of a criminal does not rob you of your basic human rights to dignity and respect.” He also asserted that if you abuse your authority and betray your oath to the public through sexually assaulting the people under your care, your badge won’t shield you from justice.

In a press release, the DOJ explains that the former deputy attempted to conceal his crime which led to the obstruction charge.

Martinez tried to destroy the WatchGuard DVR, the internal video camera of his patrol car, several hours later. This system records and stores footage taken by the backseat camera. Martinez believed, rightly, that the DVR contained a recording of him sexually abusing the victim in his patrol car’s backseat. He then attempted to destroy the recording and hide it from future investigations.

Martinez’s sentence will be determined at a later time. He faces up to ten years in prison, and up to three of closely supervised release. When Martinez is released, he will be required to compensate the victim as well as register himself as a sexual offender.