An Oklahoma City police officer, who was honored as a top foster parent, was arrested Wednesday on child sex abuse complaints.
Sgt. Maurice Anthony Martinez, 44, was arrested on complaints of lewd acts with a child younger than 16 and forcible sodomy, police spokesman Capt. Patrick Stewart said. Martinez has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Martinez began taking in foster children in 2001 and has had about 60 foster children come through his home, said Sheree Powell, DHS spokeswoman. The award he received along with five other people in 2010 recognizes foster parents for their “selfless dedication to the safety and well-being of children placed in their homes.”
Martinez had three adopted sons and three foster sons in his care at the time of his arrest, Stewart said. The boys, who are between 12 and 17 years old, have been taken into protective custody.
Martinez specialized in providing foster care only for boys, The Oklahoman confirmed.
An anonymous complaint to the Department of Human Services led to an investigation of Martinez, Stewart said. Martinez was interviewed by police, but Stewart would not discuss the details of the interview.
Police only know of one victim, but an investigation is ongoing, Stewart said. He would not say whether the accusations involve any of the children living with Martinez. Oklahoma City police do not publicly identify victims of alleged sex crimes.
“We are surprised and disappointed about the information that has been reported from this investigation,” Powell said.
DHS officials are cooperating with law enforcement officers and are willing to help them track down Martinez's former foster children for questioning if asked to do so, Powell said.
“Our first priority is the safety of these children and we have taken all appropriate steps to ensure their safety,” Powell said. “Until the investigation is complete, no children will be placed in that home.”
Martinez is the only adult living in his home, Stewart said. The 18-year veteran is a patrol officer assigned to the south side of Oklahoma City. Martinez was not married during the years he was an adoptive and foster parent, and he has another adopted son who is now an adult, Stewart said.
There is no DHS rule against placing children in single-parent homes, Powell said.
“We do have a very rigorous background check, reference check and home studies that they must all pass,” she said.
Once children are placed in a foster home, DHS has an ongoing relationship with the foster parents and children, she said.
Martinez will remain on leave pending the outcome of criminal and internal investigations, Stewart said.
Martinez was booked into Oklahoma County jail and later released on $80,000 bail, jail records show. He had not been charged Thursday.
Oklahoma City attorney Irven Box said he will be representing Martinez, but he had not yet spoken to his client Thursday and had no comment.
Martinez did not answer his telephone Thursday.
He was recognized in 2010 by the Foster Care and Adoptive Association of Oklahoma and the state Department of Human Services as one of six resource parents of the year.