Former Concord Elementary School Teacher Takes Stand in Molestation Case – Denies Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior

July 30, 2014 21:35 pm · 39 comments

A longtime Concord elementary school teacher testified in a Martinez courtroom today that he never inappropriately addressed or touched any of his students, despite the numerous child molestation charges against him.

Joseph Martin, 46, took the stand for the first time in Contra Costa County Superior Court today in the lengthy trial against him, which is expected to wrap up this week.

He is charged with 150 counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with 14 male former students at Woodside Elementary School, where he allegedly touched and rubbed boys beneath their shirts on their chests and stomachs, brushed boys’ groin areas and had them sit on his lap.

Dressed in a suit and tie, Martin answered a series of repetitivequestions about whether he ever inappropriately touched or spoke to his students with a firm “No.”

He told the court that he wanted to create a positive, fun environment for his class and cared deeply about his students, making sure to focus on the ones that had behavior problems or struggled with their schoolwork. Martin testified that he was affectionate with his students, doling out encouraging pats on the back and chest as well as hugs, but only after checking if it was ok with them.

“It was a natural part of my teaching,” he said.

Under direct examination from his attorney, Patrick Clancy, Martin testified about different times he had touched the purported victims in the case. He sometimes gave backrubs to boys if they requested them and once massaged a boy’s calf because he was sore after basketball practice, Martin testified.

Another time, he testified, he lifted a boy up to see if he would be too heavy to carry, and in another instance, he kissed a boy on the cheek while consoling him about his recently deceased brother.

In another incident of alleged inappropriate touching witnessed by a passing teacher, Martin said he had only reached over to catch a boy who was about to fall from a chair in his classroom.

However, he repeatedly denied the allegations of many of the purported victims that he put his hand under their shirts and rubbed their nipples and stomachs.

During his 22-year teaching career, many parents requested their children be in his class and some even asked him to tutor their kids or spend time with them outside of school because of the positive influence he had on them, he testified.

Martin said he treated his students like family and developed closer relationships with some of his students.

That was the case for two boys whose mother died and who would frequently come to Martin’s house to have dinner with him and his wife, he testified.

During the many hours the two boys spent with him and his wife, he probably took “hundreds and hundreds” of pictures of them, including photos where one of the boys was shirtless, he testified.

He also spent time outside of school with other male students, taking them bowling or going to their homes to bring birthday presents, he testified.

But while he developed deeper bonds with some students, the teacher testified, he told all of his students he loved them and signed off letters to the entire class with “Love.”

With less than an hour for cross-examination this afternoon, Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts focused on another set of letters written by Martin that were addressed to God.

In one letter, shown to the jury early on in the trial, Martin wrote, “Dearest Father, Before this, I was living for myself only, I was living to gratify me, serve me and feed my sinful desires… Please God, help me to not get arrested, not go to jail, and in the name of Jesus, not be charged with any crimes.”

Another letter written by Martin and displayed in court today read, “I felt evil today. I felt the darkest demons of hell being entertained in my head.”

Martin testified today that he was inspired to write the letters after his wife gave him a book entitled Jesus Calling and considered them an outlet after learning from a parent that students were accusing him of inappropriate touching. He said the “sinful desires” he wrote about referred to his desire to be better than other teachers as well as his feelings of “severe depression.”

The defendant also testified that Internet searches found on his home computer such as “definition of molestation,” “what if you are falsely accused?” and “Is a chest a private area of a boy?” were entered only after he learned of the pending allegations against him.

Clancy has said that the charges against his client stemmed from school gossip that led to “mass hysteria” and false accusations.

Martin’s testimony is expected to continue tomorrow, along with attorneys’ closing statements.

1 J July 30, 2014 at 10:11 PM

He sounds innocent. A man who deeply cared about people and his students.. But i think he may shown too much affection.. You have to draw a line somewhere. Maybe this even lies within the school district training.. Showing the clear lines of what a teacher should not do even if its considered nice. Is giving a student a pat on the back agianst the rules?

2 Doctor J July 30, 2014 at 10:25 PM

Will the prosecution call current Supt Roger Bylund of Paradise USD to tell what the mysteriously disappeared reprimand he wrote in 2002 said ? Last week Asst. Supt Julie Braun-Martin testified that she could not explain why it wasn’t in his personnel file or in a sealed file. Bylund later was the Asst Supt for Elementary while at the same time, Braun’s predecessor was Asst. Supt of Personnel Gail Isserman. Both Bylund and Isserman had been principals over Martin. Earlier testimony in the last few weeks indicated that Martin had demanded the formal written reprimand be “destroyed”. what happened to the reprimand remains unanswered as of yet. Prior to 2013 Martin had never been reported to CPS. several,of his former principals testified under immunity. Stay tuned.

3 Huh? July 30, 2014 at 10:29 PM

CLEARLY GUILTY AS ALL HELL.

4 Teacher Wannabe July 30, 2014 at 10:39 PM

Innocent til procen guilty. If he is aquited, what are the odds he’ll get a teaching job somewhere. Next to nil, reputation forever tarnished.

5 Doctor J July 30, 2014 at 10:44 PM

@J #1. I don’t know how you can arrive at that conclusion without having heard the testimony of the 14 victims. Only the jury can arrive at that conclusion after having heard and observed all the witnesses. Please don’t forget that Martin has an acting background and as the prosecutor pointed out to him, had plenty of time to practice his testimony, especially since there was no court since last Wednesday. I will let the jury weigh all,of the evidence.

6 Tom July 30, 2014 at 10:57 PM

This guy is sick and evil. All the classic signs of a pedophile.

Our kids are grown, but parents who are still raising kids, WAKE UP! If a teacher (male or female, especially male) creates an “overly friendly” environment for the children, it’s a RED FLAG. It’s what’s commonly known as GROOMING THE CHILD. Anybody who watches the news or reads the newspaper should know this.

Schools will sweep it under the rug (denial), so parents, take control and do what you have to do to protect your kids. Nobody cares about your children the way you do.

7 What Security July 30, 2014 at 11:25 PM

creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy,

men don’t do that kind of shi…… I had many perves try to put the move on me and this is how they do it. I’ve had teachers offer me pot, booze, pats on the back if they would ever try to kiss me I’d lay them out.

I’m surprised he didn’t off them gifts, or take them camping or offer overnight sessions.

F that keep him away from children.

8 Dr. Jellyfinger® July 30, 2014 at 11:32 PM

Well….. looks like the letter to God didn’t help! I could have told him that was a waste of time. I tried that for a lot of straight stuff I regretted & still got dragged into court for the paternity suit.

9 Cat Wrangler July 31, 2014 at 12:03 AM

A truly professional educator would never create or allow a physically intimate show of affection with any child. I doubt the accused teacher’s version of events.

I feel so sorry for the children who had to endure the sexual abuse and betrayal of trust by an adult who was in a position of authority and influence in their lives. He may pay a price for his actions with a few years of prison and probation if convicted but his victims will pay the price for his choices and actions every day for the rest of their natural lives in every relationship that they will have.

10 Doctor J July 31, 2014 at 12:17 AM

Another “crime” was the failure of school districts to adequately train all employees in mandatory reporting of child abuse. see the Grand Jury report 1402: http://www.cc-courts.org/_data/n_0038/resources/live/rpt1402.pdf

11 Mr. John July 31, 2014 at 6:07 AM

We have a few snippets from the trial. There is a lot more evidence out there in the case that we are not shown here, and the ‘evidence’ shown here is filtered through the lens of the person reporting it. We should not think we are in a position to judge the criminal guilt of this person. The criminal system has the job of determining whether he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, that is only criminal guilt. When it comes to our own approach to dealing with this person should we encounter him in our own lives, the criminal standards and limited access to evidence are not involved in our handling of him. I would not want my kid to be anywhere near him, not because I know he is a threat, but because there is enough information out there that there is too much risk that he is a threat.

12 Truth13 July 31, 2014 at 6:18 AM

You have got to be kidding me!! The limited information provided in this article is enough to scream get your children away from this guy!! Who in their right mind thinks it’s ok for a 46 year old man to touch your child by rubbing their chest or take hundreds of pictures and some shirtless of your son? These are classic signs of grooming and testing the boundaries. For those who think this is appropriate behavior by a teacher I truly am disgusted by your inability to see this for what it is .

13 ChampagneKitty July 31, 2014 at 6:41 AM

I think Martin’s defense is pretty weak. I don’t believe his innocent claims for a second. They sound to me like desperate attempts to explain away his behavior. I can’t see how the jury is going to believe what he’s saying.

14 Silva July 31, 2014 at 7:10 AM

I think it sounds highly inapropriate, and pretty creepy. He should not be a teacher of children or work with or around children, but if you think a kid will suffer the rest of their life for being felt up or brushed or rubbed against, you don’t know what suffering is.

15 Wow.. July 31, 2014 at 7:15 AM

You’re telling me these kids DIDN’T know they were being inappropriately touched? BS… Somethings fishy.. When your teacher asks to take shirtless pics of you, you don’t say “Yes, let’s do it!”, you say “Uh.. No thanks”. Even if it is a teacher!

Our legal system is pathetic… Literally any adult can be sent to jail by a few minors just by simply saying “He touched my no-no’s”..

They didn’t find any other evidence of pedophilia right? You’d think after 20 years of teaching and not getting caught, he’d have quite a collection. Also you’d think within that 20 years, someone else would have come forward.

It’s also funny that it’s always MALE… Ever notice that? I had a female teacher in HS who used to put her hand on my back and hold it there while she helped me. She was also always bending down in front of me when she wore skinny jeans. She used to let me leave campus to get coffee or food whenever I wanted. Sometimes she’d bring me food. She gave me a C even though I didn’t do any of my work. And on the last day she asked for a hug to say goodbye. But i’m sure it was all friendly since she’s female… Right?

16 anon July 31, 2014 at 7:30 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McMartin_preschool_trial

see above — not all complaints are real

17 Cowellian July 31, 2014 at 8:52 AM

Teacher Wannabe@4,
He’s only innocent if he didn’t do it.

18 Mark July 31, 2014 at 9:07 AM

When he goes to prison his new buddies will turn it all around.

He will be the victim this time.

19 Anon777 July 31, 2014 at 9:23 AM

Agree with Dr. J and Truth13.

This guy should be hung by the gonads in the village square.

20 not human July 31, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Give him a dose of Ebola.

21 Mob Mentality July 31, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Just because someone is different and maybe, in your opinion, “overly” friendly doesn’t make them a child molester… the people accusing him have the mob mentality, and the commenters here are just following along like sheep, adding fuel to the fire.

He was my teacher back in the early 90’s, he lived down the street from the family home I grew up in. He taught my siblings and family members. Yes, some people thought he was weird; is being “weird” a crime now? He never did anything remotely “sexual” with anyone I’ve known. He actually cared about his students, though, and tried really hard to get ones that weren’t interested in school actually interested. Kids that were living in poverty and didn’t have basic necessities like tooth brushes and shampoo, he would buy them those things and deliver them to the parents. Speaking of parents, the parents were ALWAYS in and out the classroom, they were always welcome and he developed good relationships with them.

Grab your torches, though, because this guy MUST be a child molester. Good lord, he hugged his students and gave them pats on the backs and maybe came off a little “flamboyant” for some, burn him the stake.

22 Tom July 31, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Mob Mentality, you’re very naïve. I have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting through to naïve people, and I don’t buy lotto tickets.

You know him personally. Good luck with your “friend.” Perhaps you can visit him in prison. It’s where he’s headed because it’s where he belongs.

I don’t know anything about growing up in poverty, but I’d rather do without the shampoo than have this guy swing by. You can get a toothbrush at the dollar store.

23 teachers July 31, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Are taught how to act appropriately withstudents. If teacher touches, or front hugs, it’s now considered “overly friendly”, so the stuff Martin ADMITs to is way out of bounds.

24 Kirkwood July 31, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Without getting into the guilt/innocence issue, I see that the relationships between students and teachers sure have changed over the years. In my day the only interface between teacher and student was by voice. Students either liked or disliked their teacher but in any case the teacher was a stranger, not family. Today, it seems like some students see schools as an extension of their family, possibly because there is something lacking in the home. This teacher obviously violated social protocol and should have known better. Whatever his intentions, the mistake is going to be costly.
I usually avoid hot-button issues but I have my Nomex suit ready.

25 Joe S July 31, 2014 at 2:55 PM

My children were students of Mr. Martin. Naturally, wev were concerned with these allegations. We elected to attend the trial on three separate occasions. We attended initially being completely neutral, we sincerely just wanted to know if our concerns were justified. After hearing three of the accusers, the testimony of Nina Pate, and both expert witnesses from the D.A. as well as the defense, I can say that our concerns no longer exist. We are confident in Mr. Martin’s innocence. While we are firm that his affection was inappropriately displayed in a school setting, we do not feel it could remotely be considered sexual. Lastly, after attending the trial personally, I really enjoyed the reports in the Contra Costa Times…..did they attend the same trial as myself? The reporting was so biased! I consider it a great form of fiction.

26 Mob Mentality July 31, 2014 at 3:15 PM

@Tom #23 – What is really naive is a bunch of half wits getting excited and shouting “guilty” when someone is still on trial. If you actually spoke with parents of his students, or his students, over the years you might get a completely different story… but, of course, it’s much more sensational to believe that there is a cover-up going on of wide-spread child molestation. If you like to believe inflammatory BS before it’s even been proven in court, then I suppose that your prerogative!

Even back in my day there were parents who didn’t like him. Some people don’t like overly friendly and flamboyant, most people just assumed he was gay. If you know anything about Woodside Elementary and the neighborhoods and families that surround it, then you’d know that it would extremely unsurprising for parents to hop on board and start a witch hunt.

All I can give you is my opinion: Is he guilty of crossing the line as far as social etiquette goes? Probably. Of hugging and being touchy-feely the way some people are wont to be? Maybe. Is he a little bit weird? Yes. Is he a child molester? I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the court says about that.

27 Alex July 31, 2014 at 3:25 PM

What hasn’t been brought up yet is the fact that it seems he consoled mostly the boys in his class. There’s no allegations from girls being touched inappropriately; so this observation raises the biggest red flag in my opinion.

28 Doctor J July 31, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Today (TH) Martin admits violating the 2006 mandate against one particular boy and being alone with students. “A 2006 school investigation into Martin resulted in a directive that barred the teacher from physical contact with the boy and from being alone with any students.
“You did not follow that directive with (the boy),” Butts said.
“That’s right,” Martin said.” I am quoting from CCT article.

29 SpankyFortuna July 31, 2014 at 5:27 PM

The only time you might hug a 9-10 year-old student is if he/she initiates it. And not a full-on hug and never kiss a student. Anything other touching or hugging is INAPPROPRIATE .

My classroom was 2 doors down from his classroom. When I walked into his class, I had the feeling that I had interrupted something. Awkward, uncomfortable, creepy. It was a feeling that I had never felt in ANY of the hundreds of times I had visited classrooms in over a dozen different Mt. Diablo schools over a 34-year period.

Is it a jury trial or “judge decides” trial?

30 Truth13 July 31, 2014 at 10:05 PM

Ok I must ask when is it ever appropriate for a teacher to take shirtless photos of 10-12 year old boys ? Rub their chests or kiss them to console them in a time of crisis? You can spin this anyway you want naive responders but this guy crossed a moral and legal line. Those who defend or justify his actions live in a world of denial. Read the section regarding lewd acts with children and maybe you will get a better grasp of what he is being accused of , if your son came home and said hey dad Mr Martin rubbed my chest or took tons of photos of me some even shirtless and you didn’t go off please please please don’t have kids !!

31 Tom July 31, 2014 at 11:47 PM

Mob Mentality—#26

We’ll agree to disagree. I hope you don’t have any children.

My opinion stands. HE’S A PEDOPHILE——PERIOD! You’re in DENIAL!

32 Old student of MR.MARTIN August 1, 2014 at 9:07 AM

I believe in him ! I had him back in the day I’m currently 23 now and never did he ever seem to be what you guys say … He was an amazing teacher .. Now in days you can’t even be nice to students just because of how everything in changing . Honestly I’ve been seeing a lot of things change along the way .. Kids don’t see affection in hugs .. If you ain’t handling something they want (phone etc) they feel unloved .. I do remember MR.MARTIN always hugging us .. But never did we see he was doing it for bad intentions with us. He did teach us how to make movies also . He tought us how to make bread . Got all the 5th graders to learn how to dance for camp! Always doing everything in hill will to help us out . Honestly from my point of view he’s the only teacher I actually remember from all my other ones just because he stood out .. Idk maybe kids now in days don’t know what affection and sexual harrasment is .. Maybe they aren’t getting much affection at home .. And take it to mislead that if any adult hugs you it’s sexual harrasment .. Point is I do believe in his inocence .. Just because I had him in 5th grade .. No one told me about how he was it saw it for my self ! Oh and by the way . I had a very hard situation happen in my life . I lost my home .. And guess what one day we receive a box of food where we were staying at .. You wouldn’t think me being 21 at the time he would still remember us right ? Well he did he dropped a box full of food and signed JOE MARTIN. :( innocent until proven guilty :(

33 J August 1, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Mob mentality is right

34 Ridgewalker August 1, 2014 at 7:31 PM

My child was in his class and has fond memories. He taught the kids how to make broccoli with cheese sauce in a microwave. That’s her stand out memory anyway.

35 Deb August 1, 2014 at 10:31 PM

I think I just heard KTVU report that most of the charges against Martin were dropped today. I was listening from another room so I’m not sure I heard it correctly, but I thought they said 130 out of 150 charges were dropped.

36 Jojo Potato August 2, 2014 at 8:02 AM

KTVU just announced that 34 of the charges were dropped. Stay tuned.

37 Olong Johnson August 2, 2014 at 8:09 AM

So he’s only being charged with 20 counts of being a pervert? Aw, shucks. Just let him go then.

38 Charged with 20 counts? August 2, 2014 at 9:33 AM

I would prefer to see how many counts he is found guilty of, and then upon conviction, he should be taken outside and shot with an equal number of bullets.

39 ChampagneKitty August 2, 2014 at 11:44 AM

No, not charged with 20 counts…prosecutors dropped 34 out of 150 molestation counts. That means there are still 116 counts. Here is a short article about it:

http://www.contracostatimes.com/walnut-creek/ci_26264476/concord-da-drops-34-molestation-counts-against-accused

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