MARTINEZ -- In 2002, four years before the district launched a probe into allegations of inappropriate behavior by Joseph Martin and a decade before he would be charged with molesting 14 students, the Concord teacher's principal wrote him a letter of reprimand regarding his association with a male student.
It was the first public acknowledgement that the Mount Diablo school district had Martin on its radar prior to 2006, but details about the admonishment are unknown as the document is missing, a Concord police detective testified Tuesday in the three-week trial.
Martin, 46, of Martinez, has pleaded not guilty to 150 counts of molestation. Most of his alleged victims, all male, have sued in civil court claiming district officials did not properly handle earlier complaints against Martin.
On Tuesday, lead detective Tamra Roberts took the stand and described an unhelpful school district as she asked for documents and assistance in May 2013. In particular, a school district attorney was reluctant to provide an unedited copy of a 2006 internal investigation report written by an outside attorney. The full report, which this newspaper is suing to view, contained mixed conclusions, but cited the possibility of abuse by Martin.
"There was quite a delay. I had to keep calling back and asking where it was," Roberts said. Five days later she received a report with children's names blacked out.
It took reminding the school district that they were "mandated reporters" -- by law they must immediately report suspicions of abuse to Child Protective Services or police -- to get a complete version of the report, Roberts testified.
At that point, Roberts said she began a second investigation into possible failures to report, a misdemeanor crime, regarding Jennifer Sachs, Martin's principal in 2006; Roger Bylund, his principal in 2002; and the former associate superintendent Gail Isserman, among others that she did not name.
No one reported the allegations to police or to Child Protective Services in 2002 or 2006, however the district attorney's office declined to charge any officials, citing a lack of evidence and statute of limitations issues.
It's unclear what events sparked the 2002 reprimand, but prosecutor Derek Butts shared 32 of Martin's computer files that had been deleted and later recovered by computer experts.
In one file, Martin wrote about meeting with parents after his 2002 reprimand.
"Simply put, some of the other students were jealous of the extra attention (the student) received while he was on crutches in my class half of the school year. We discussed some strategies on how to avoid the other students feeling that way. They left the meeting happy and pleased. They have continued to send me a card at Christmas time," Martin wrote.
In another of Martin's letters from his computer he wrote about an agreement he had with Bylund to destroy the letter of reprimand after two years as part of his "contract."
The detective also shared a letter to God recovered in Martin's car.
"Dearest Lord, I felt evil today. I felt the darkest demons of hell in my head," Martin wrote. In the letter Martin also asked God to keep him from being arrested.
Martin's attorney Patrick Clancy questioned Roberts' experience conducting large-scale sex assault cases in her two-plus years working as a detective, along with her lack of training in how group hysteria can affect cases. Clancy has said the allegations against Martin were fueled by rumors spread online and by word of mouth.
He asked numerous questions about why the interview process took so long and why one interview with an alleged victim was done without a recording device. He also questioned why teachers searched Martin's classroom prior to police.
The trial continues Wednesday.
Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.