The Mancos High School Spanish teacher arrested Monday afternoon on suspicion of sexually assaulting a student made his first court appearance at a bond hearing Tuesday afternoon.
The Mancos Marshal’s Office executed an arrest warrant on 28-year-old Armando Lee-Martinez, a Mancos native, after an investigation that began April 14. According to a Monday news release from Mancos Marshal Justen Goodall, the investigation kicked off after an allegation had been made of a “teacher and student relationship.”
Four felony charges were listed in the arrest affidavit:
- Sex assault on a child by a person in a position of trust as part of a pattern of abuse, a Class 3 felony.
- Sex assault on a child victim age 15-17 by a person in a position of trust, a Class 4 felony.
- Sexual exploitation of children, induce or entice, a Class 3 felony.
- Tampering with physical evidence, a Class 6 felony.
Lee-Martinez was in his first year as the school’s Spanish teacher for students in grades nine through 12.
22nd Judicial District Attorney Matt Margeson argued Tuesday that Lee-Martinez’s bond be set at $50,000, and that a number of other restrictions should be imposed.
“The allegations here are of a very serious nature, especially concerning due to the fact that after an investigation was initiated, it’s alleged that the defendant took steps to destroy or conceal potential evidence of his wrongdoing,” Margeson said.
Margeson argued that Lee-Martinez be prohibited from using the internet or any device capable of connecting to the internet.
He also argued that Lee-Martinez be prohibited from contact with anyone under the age of 18.
Margeson asked for an additional protection order for another individual mentioned in the arrest affidavit.
“There was information that led my office to make a request that an additional person be protected,” Margeson told The Journal Wednesday. “The behavior that was listed in the affidavit as it related to to the second individual that has a protection order is concerning.”
Defense attorney David Greenberg emphasized that Lee-Martinez is presumed innocent until proven guilty and has no prior criminal history.
“The fact that this is a serious crime, I think that cuts both ways,” Greenberg said. “He’s taking it seriously. He’s known about his imminent arrest for two and a half weeks. He actually spoke to the marshal briefly. He cooperated with the Mancos marshal, offered to self-surrender at the appropriate time.”
Greenberg argued that Lee-Martinez be released on a personal recognizance bond, in which a judge allows the defendant to be released without any deposit or collateral. Defendants still have to promise to appear in court even though they have their bond conditions removed.
According to Greenberg, Lee-Martinez was informed prior to the execution of the search warrant that it was imminent. Greenberg argued that this indicated the marshal’s office did not consider him to be a flight risk.
“The marshal felt comfortable enough about the situation that he had no fear or hesitation whatsoever,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg asked for the “least restrictive“ alternatives to being kept in jail, emphasizing that Lee-Martinez rarely left Mancos in the first place.
“He’s known to be a law-abiding citizen. He’s presumed innocent,” Greenberg said. “Only the highest risk of all individuals in custody should be detained for trial.”
Clara Martinez, the defendant’s mother, spoke Tuesday in county court.
“I would like to assure you, judge, that my son Armando will comply with every bit of the rules of the bond,” Martinez sad. “He is taking this situation very seriously. I personally guarantee that he’s staying with me and that he’s going to do what is asked of him on bail, whatever those rules are.”
County Court Judge JenniLynn Lawrence appeared virtually Tuesday as she recovered from the coronavirus.
“In setting this bond, the charges that you come before me on are of the most serious nature,” Lawrence said. “And they are even more serious for a person in your position. Teachers stand in the shoes of parents. And their children are to be trusted in their care as though the parents themselves were present at a time when parents can’t even get access to schools because of locked doors and COVID and everything else that goes on these days. We can’t even walk through the hallways of schools, and so it’s ever more important that the persons who are in these educational institutions can be trusted with the safety of students.”
Bond was set at $20,000. Conditions included that Lee-Martinez be prohibited from having contact with children under the age of 18 who are not members of his immediate family and is prohibited from possessing a firearm or any kind of ammunition.
Lawrence also approved the protection order for the additional individual mentioned in the affidavit. She emphasized that the protections orders strictly prohibit the harassment or intimidation of any alleged witnesses or victims.
According to Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office Records Manager Heather Mann, Lee-Martinez’s bond was posted and he was released later on Tuesday.
The 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office will likely file its formal charges at a hearing on May 20.