C-P soccer coach charged with improper relationship with student

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Feb. 6, 2007 - Como-Pickton Consolidated Independent School District's boys soccer coach was arrested Monday after confessing to having an improper relationship with a student on at least five occasions in 2005, according to Hopkins County Sheriff Butch Adams.

Antonio Martinez, 28, of Como was interviewed at Hopkins County Sheriff's Office Monday morning by Texas Ranger Philip Kemp and sheriff's investigator Lewis Tatum regarding allegations brought to officers' attention prior to Jan. 17 of an improper relationship between the educator and a student, according to arrest reports.

At 9:50 a.m. Monday, Kemp and Tatum arrested Martinez on the second-degree felony charge. Martinez was arraigned and later released Tuesday morning on $20,000 bond, according to jail officials.

Como-Pickton acting Superintendent Sandra Billodeau said she had yet to speak to Martinez since his arrest. She said it was too early to speak of what, if any, action will be taken. She said the district was still in the early stages of investigating th information and to comment on Martinez's employment status now would be improper and inappropriate.

Sheriff Adams said Tuesday morning that after the information was brought to their attention, the person who would be the "on-record complainant" was established. That person was brought in, and the investigation launched. After obtaining information which they believe pointed to an inappropriate relationship in April and May of 2005, during the evening hours in an Industrial Drive parking lot, Martinez was questioned. 

The alleged teen-age victim of the acts has since graduated high school and is attending college.

Billodeau will be required to notify the State Board of Education of the matter.

Allegations of misconduct had been levied before.

Another teacher, after receiving information two years ago, contacted school administrators to report alleged misconduct between Martinez and a student. The teacher was not contacted regarding the allegation, which then Supt. Bryan Neal said had been investigated by then-principal Randall 

Wellman. Neal, who resigned last month after being charged with misuse of district money and property, said Wellman concluded the allegations to be "nothing more than rumors," and no further action was taken regarding the claims.

The teacher has since filed a formal complaint with Texas Education Agency. The school board president and Neal were given copies of the complaint after grievances filed through the superintendent's office were not addressed to her satisfaction.

The complaint was received by Neal and baord president Mark Humphry on Dec. 29. The school district, according to the TEA's complaint proceedure, has 45 calendar days to respond and resolve the matter to the complainant's satisfcation. Afterward, it is up to the state agency to determine what, if any, further action will be taken.

The teacher, who has been reassigned at least four times this year — which she indicated she believes to be retaliation for making the report against Martinez — said the issue has not been resolved to her satisfaction and plans to continue pursuing the complaint.

Martinez was also noted to have accompanied Neal to a superintendent's conference hosted by Region VIII Education Service Center, with the cost charged to the school earlier this year. School board members ordered that Neal be required to pay back the cost of Martinez' salary for the two days, plus all of Martinez' expenses associated with the trip.

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