Mother claims son was abused by former Rowland Unified teacher

Now, a mother who says her son was a victim is speaking out.

Anabel Munoz Image
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Mother claims son was abused by former Rowland Unified teacher
A former teacher at Rowland Elementary School was convicted of child sex abuse and now, a mother who says her son was a victim is speaking out.

ROWLAND HEIGHTS, Calif. (KABC) -- A civil lawsuit is the latest legal action after a former elementary school teacher was convicted of child sex abuse.

In 2019, Jose Cruz Martinez was sentenced to five years for inappropriately touching girls, and earlier this year, sentenced to 20 years, convicted of child sex abuse.

The mother of one of the children in that case recalls when her child told her his 2nd grade teacher sexually abused him at Rowland Elementary School.

"It's the most horrible feeling because as a parent, you feel defenseless," she said. "Your world closes in on you. You feel powerless. You don't know who to turn to."

"Mr. Martinez was 55 years old at the time; disgusting vile behavior and for that reason, he was given 20 years in the criminal court," said attorney Michael S. Carrillo. "Now we seek justice in the civil case."

The civil lawsuit is seeking damages from the Rowland Unified School District, accusing it of negligence and failure to perform mandatory duties, including the duty to report suspected incidents of child abuse. The mother of the child said if they knew, they should have been the ones to stop it.

The school district told Eyewitness News in a statement:

"The Rowland Unified School District takes all matters involving student safety very seriously. Inappropriate or unsafe behaviors by anyone in our schools will not be tolerated. In 2018, upon receipt of information regarding alleged misconduct, protocol was followed, law enforcement was immediately contacted and the teacher was removed from the school. The District fully cooperated with law enforcement throughout the investigation and fact gathering process. This matter has been addressed by law enforcement and the judicial system."

In the lawsuit, there is also a claim that Martinez threatened to lower the child's grade if he reported the abuse to his parents.

Attorneys say the boy -- who is now 13 years old -- eventually told his mother what happened after detectives began an investigation at the school.

His mother said she only asks her attorneys for justice.