CONCORD -- An elementary schoolteacher is behind bars after police arrested him on suspicion of sexually abusing at least a dozen of his current and former students.
Joseph Andrew Martin, 45, who teaches fourth and fifth grade at Woodside Elementary School in Concord, faces multiple counts of committing lewd acts on children, said Lt. Steve Dyer, of the Concord Police Department. His victims' ages ranged from 11 to 17 years old, police said.
Detectives believe most of the suspected incidents occurred at Woodside Elementary, though the time frame of the crimes remains undisclosed.
Martin was arrested at his home in the 4800 block of Starflower Drive in Martinez on Thursday after an eight-week investigation, Dyer said. The investigation into Martin began April 25, when Woodside Elementary administration reported that a teacher inappropriately touched a student, whose identity is not being released. Officers began a preliminary investigation into the allegations and the school district placed Martin, who has worked for Mt. Diablo Unified School District since 1991, on administrative leave.
"The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is saddened and disturbed by the recent arrest of a teacher at Woodside Elementary School in Concord," said interim superintendent John Bernard in a statement released Saturday. "Our staff has been working with the Concord Police Department since this was brought to our attention in late April 2013. The teacher in question was removed immediately and has not returned to the campus.
"While we cannot comment on the ongoing investigation, our prayers and supportive thoughts are with the victims and their families. We strongly encourage anyone with information about this investigation to contact the Concord Police Department."
According to Dyer, the investigation involved multiple witness interviews and the identification and interviews of 12 juvenile victims who were Martin's current or former students. On Wednesday, investigators obtained an arrest warrant as well as search warrants for his home and classroom.
The following day, detectives arrested Martin at his home, and he was transported to county jail, where he remains in lieu of $3.95 million bail. Detectives plan to present the investigation to the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office on Tuesday.
"Investigations of this nature involving adults who are the custodians of innocent children are particularly complex and troubling," Dyer said in a prepared release. "Although Mr. Martin has not been formally charged, the case is still being actively investigated, and additional victims and witnesses are being sought."
A hotline has been established to find any additional victims at 925-603-5836.