District defends handling of Martinez allegations

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OTHELLO — The Othello School District is defending its handling of an investigation into allegations against former Othello girl’s wrestling coach Jacob Jermaine “J.J.” Martinez, after the Adams County Prosecutor found insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against him.

“As many of you in the community are aware, a now-former school district employee was being investigated for potential criminal charges regarding his relationship with a student,” the school district wrote in a statement.

“The media has recently reported that the prosecutor found insufficient evidence to file criminal charges,” the statement reads. “We want everyone to know that as a District we hold a firm line that student safety is our priority and professional staff/student boundaries must be maintained at all times.”

After allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a student surfaced in mid-February, Martinez was put on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. He resigned before that investigation.

“The District addressed the concerns by immediately placing the employee on paid leave and commencing an investigation,” the statement continued. “The employee voluntarily resigned during the course of the investigation. A statement we received from Adams County Prosecutor, K. Peter Paubicki regarding the pending charges against the employee reads, ‘The evidence reveals that (Employee) violated numerous school policies.’ Please know that if policies are violated that interfere with student safety, the Othello School District will be holding the employees accountable.”

Paubicki did not immediately respond for clarification regarding the specific policies that were violated. When asked, Superintendent Chris Hurst said he believed that the prosecutor was referring to district policies and procedures related to “Maintaining Professional Staff/Student Boundaries.”

Martinez has previously criticized the school’s handling of the accusations and has said that the school forced him to resign.

“Mr. Martinez was given an ultimatum by the school, resign or be terminated,” said the law firm representing Martinez in a press release. “This was after not only Mr. Martinez denied these allegations, but after the student in question denied these allegations and her own family stood by Mr. Martinez. Despite the support, Mr. Martinez decided out of necessity to resign.”

Deric Orr, Martinez’ attorney, has said that Martinez is considering whether to file a wrongful termination suit, but that no legal action is currently being pursued. Martinez did not respond to a request for comment.

Casey McCarthy contributed to this report.

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