Police: Odessa teacher's aide sexually assaulted teen with special needs

ODESSA -- An Ector County ISD teacher’s aide was arrested Wednesday morning on charges of sexual assault of a child.

Sammy Martinez, 29. (Odessa Police Department)

Sammy Cruz Martinez, 29, has been a teacher’s aide for special needs students at Odessa High School since 2017, according to ECISD.

Martinez was arrested by ECISD police at 11:30 Wednesday morning on a charge of sexual assault of a child, a 2nd degree felony charge.

ECISD Director of Communications, Mike Adkins, said the situation is horrible.

“I don’t know if I can describe the level of frustration and anger that we feel. And we understand the community’s going to feel that way too. And they should, they should, because we are determined to put an end to this,” he said.

Martinez’s arrest affidavit reveals the sexual assault of the male 16-year-old teen was reported on July 15.

The affidavit states that Martinez was a family friend of the victim.

The court record details a sexual relationship between the teen and Martinez, and that inappropriate messages were exchanged between them on Facebook Messenger.

Adkins said he does not know if the teen attends OHS. Adkins said he checked with the OHS principal, and found no complaints had been filed against Martinez.

“School hasn’t started yet, but he was at a district training today. And that’s where our officers were able to find him and take him into custody,” Adkins said.

Adkins said because of inappropriate behavior by a handful of teachers, the district places an emphasis on thorough background checks.

“The criminal background checks that we run, are based on fingerprints. That’s a state requirement. It’s a state requirement for us to drug test. We check references, we check past employment history,” Adkins said.

Adkins added that the district also provides extensive ethics training for all educators.

“We require it to be face-to-face, we require it also to be online, we require it multiple times a year, we have very special focus on the section on inappropriate relationships,” Adkins said.

The communications director said Martinez was immediately placed on administrative leave after the police notified the district of the arrest warrant.

Martinez’s future with the district is pending investigation.

A teacher's aide working at Odessa High School has been arrested after police say he sexually assaulted a teenager with special needs.

Sammy Martinez, 29, has been charged with Sexual Assault of a Child, a 2nd Degree Felony.

According to the Odessa Police Department, a sexual assault was reported on July 15.

The report stated that a close family friend, identified as Martinez, had sexually assaulted a teenager.

Police say that Martinez sent several inappropriate messages to a 16-year-old male with special needs and that he also engaged in sexual conduct with the teen.

Following the police department's investigation detectives obtained a warrant for Martinez who was charged and arrested Wednesday morning by Ector County ISD Police as Martinez was working as a teacher's aide.

Ector County ISD has released the following statement on the arrest:

"We are angry to be facing a situation like this again. The safety of our students is our highest priority. We want to remind our community that we take great strides to hire great people - our hiring requires a criminal background check, via fingerprinting. Drug testing is required, as are checks of previous employment. We place a very heavy emphasis on ethics training. We require face-to-face and online training for all employees, and multiple times per year. We give special focus to sessions on inappropriate relationships between educators and students. We set very clear expectations for our staff.

We have incredible people in ECISD. This situation denigrates the work being done by thousands of others who are teaching, encouraging and inspiring kids every day. We do not want to forget their work. At the same time, we want to assure our community we will help the police and the family in any way we can. An incident like this is unacceptable."

Martinez began working for ECISD in April 2017.

This story has been updated to show that Martinez is 29, not 19.