2 parents ask questions about ex-substitute at Ottoson, Stratton

Former TA arraigned in student assault

UPDATED, March 12: The Arlington employment history of James Henry Martin III, 36, of Woburn, who was arraigned March 6, on charges of aggravated statutory rape and enticement of a child under 16 for sex, was the subject of comments by two Stratton parents at the Thursday, March 12, School Committee meeting.

Rob Chalmers and John Bromley addressed the committee at public participation, as 15 in the audience listened. Chalmers's remarks included an allegation that Martin was fired from Stratton and then rehired at Ottoson.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie has declined to comment to YourArlington, saying these are personnel issues. 

Cambridge District Court Judge Roanne Sragow set bail for Martin at $250,000 with conditions to include that Martin stay away and have no contact with the victim or witnesses in this case, stay away and have no contact with children under the age of 16, have no employment or volunteer work with children under the age of 16, use no alcohol and no drugs and submit to random screens, stay away from Arlington and Woburn public school properties, wear a GPS bracelet and not possess a phone or other device capable of accessing the internet, applications, or social media. The next scheduled court hearing for Martin is Monday, April 6.

In an email to parents and guardians Monday, March 9, wrote that the former teaching assistant/building substitute worked at Stratton Elementary School as a teaching assistant from September 2011 to April 2012, where he was assigned to one fourth-grade classroom under the supervision of the classroom teacher. His contact with students outside the classroom was limited to walking with groups of students to music, art or physical education, or assisting in the supervision of outside recess.

Further, he did not attend the fifth-grade science camp, or any other overnight programs associated with the Stratton, she wrote.
Martin then worked at the Ottoson Middle School as a teaching assistant/building substitute from April to June 2012 as well throughout the 2012-2013 school year.

He subsequently voluntarily resigned in the summer 2013 to take a position elsewhere.

As a teaching assistant/building substitute at Ottoson, his assignment varied daily depending upon the needs of the building, Bodie wrote. If he was assigned to a specific class, it was for a short duration.

"As I mentioned in my statement last week, Mr. Martin passed the same background check required of all APS employees before they are hired.

"With a police investigation underway, I cannot comment further at this time, except to say that the safety and welfare of our students is always our priority," she wrpte. "If anyone has any information that could be helpful to the criminal investigation you are encouraged to contact the Arlington Police Department. If you have any other concerns or questions please let me know."

"The dynamics described in this alleged incident fit a pattern which is common with online 'predators' who are charged with sexual crimes," said District Attorney Marian Ryan in a news release. "The adult is someone who has had or who does develop a friendly relationship with a minor, then begins to appeal to the young person’s desire to be understood. Once the vulnerable young person reaches a certain comfort level with the predator, then a sexual encounter takes place. These characteristics of exploitation are more reason than ever for adults to have regular and ongoing conversations with young people so teenagers understand that they can be manipulated, even by people they may know."

Martin was arrested by Arlington and Woburn police at his Woburn home about 5 p.m. Thursday, officials said.

Arlington police said they received a report alleging that a teenager was sexually assaulted by a man who had previously worked as a substitute at Ottoson Middle School, where the victim was previously a student.

Police said the investigation showed that Martin met the victim while the victim was his student and later contacted the victim using a cellphone-based social-media service.

Martin arranged to meet the minor in January. He allegedly took the victim to a parking lot and sexually assaulted the victim before dropping the victim off at a nearby restaurant, according to the investigation.

"This is a deeply disturbing case, in which we allege that an adult sexually assaulted a minor and violated the trust in him to care for children," Chief Frederick Ryan said in a statement.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said in a statement: "Recently, Arlington Public Schools received a report concerning alleged improper actions of a former employee toward a former Middle School student.

"The report was immediately forwarded by Arlington Public Schools’ staff to the Department of Children and Families in accordance with state law, for investigation, and The Arlington Police Department is investigating the matter.

"The former employee, who was a building substitute teacher, voluntarily resigned from employment with APS in June 2013. All APS employees are subject to criminal background checks before they are hired. We are cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation.

"We are not aware of any other inappropriate conduct involving any other children, and we have no reason to believe that any other children were affected.

"With a police investigation underway, we are not allowed to comment further at this time, except to say that the safety and welfare of our students is always our highest priority, and we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect and assist our students and their families."

The prosecutor assigned to this case is Assistant District Attorney Jeff Bourgeois. The victim witness advocate is Theresa Corcoran. The child interview specialist is Margaret Leavitt.

This story was published Thursday, March 5, 2015, and updated March 12.

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