Camden County, NJ — Police, we are told, are society's finest. Heroic men and women sacrifice themselves to protect society from criminals so that we may live long and safe lives. If this assertion were entirely true, when these fine men and women commit a crime they are sworn to prevent, they should be held to higher standards than the rest of society because not only have they broken a law, but they have betrayed the trust of people they serve.
However, as the case below illustrates, all too often, when a police officer betrays this trust—going so far as to prey on society's most vulnerable, children—their badge grants them a lower standard of justice and they escape accountability.
Rafael Martinez Jr., a now-former Camden County cop was found guilty of having sexual relations with and impregnating a child. This was confirmed with DNA evidence and the officer himself admitted it. However, he will not spend a single day in jail.
As NJ.com reports, Judge Edward McBride accepted a negotiated plea to sentence Martinez to five years probation. As part of the agreement, Martinez pleaded to endangering the welfare of a child.
The New Jersey Age of Consent is 16 years old. In the United States, the age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. Individuals aged 15 or younger in New Jersey are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity is defined as statutory rape.
Because Martinez' victim was only 15 years old, she was not legally able to consent to have sex with the 33-year-old public servant, which makes it an act of rape under New Jersey law.
These facts, however, were of no concern to the justice system in New Jersey as they refused to send him to jail. Instead, this police officer, who betrayed his oath to the constitution, who betrayed the citizens he served, and who took advantage of a child, got off scot free with only five years of probation.
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As NJ.com reports:
In mid-August 2017, the teen gave birth at Cooper University Hospital in Camden and was interviewed by a social worker there, according to court documents.
The girl told the social worker that Martinez, 33, was the father, which was later confirmed with DNA evidence.
According to Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Grace MacAulay, Martinez' defense was that he didn't know the girl was only a child because she told him she was 18.
"Saying the child told me she was 18, that is inexcusable and unacceptable for any person in our society, but especially for a law enforcement officer," MacAulay said. "They are held to a higher standard."
Sadly, however, the reference to a "higher standard" was little more than lip service as this former cop's sentence proves the standards are quite low for law enforcement.
During the closing statements of the sentencing, the judge brought up Martinez' service as an officer and, in a roundabout way, used it to justify his decision not to send him to jail.
In sentencing Martinez, McBride noted that "his conduct is the result of circumstances that are unlikely to recur" and that the cop had no prior contact with the criminal justice system (besides being part of it).