Additional charges pending in day care molestation case
The license of the in-home Country Kids Daycare in Gerber has been pulled by state authorities as an investigation into reported child sex abuse continues.
Tehama County District Attorney Gregg Cohen said additional charges are pending against Ralph Elvis Martin, 64, whose wife, 57-year-old Virginia Martin, ran the daycare on Redland Avenue.
Martin has been formally charged with oral copulation of a child under 10, forcible oral copulation of a child under 14 and four counts of lewd and lascivious conduct on a child under 14.
Since that time, a joint investigation by the Tehama County Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's Office has uncovered at least eight reported victims, said Cohen.
"My investigator has interviewed at least 50 people, parents and children, who used Country Kids Daycare from 2003 to present," Cohen said. "We anticipate filling additional charges, possibly as soon as Martin's next court date on Tuesday at 8 a.m."
Cohen said he is handling the prosecution of the case.
The District Attorney's Office may file a special allegation of unlawful sexual intercourse with a two or more children, which could carry a sentence of 15 years to life, he said.
The case began when suspicious circumstances involving a 4-year-old child at an area hospital were reported to the Tehama County Sheriff's Department on Nov. 5, according to the District Attorney.
An investigation by sheriff's deputies led to the arrest of Martin on Nov. 6 at his home, which is also the site of the daycare.
Of the eight reported victims, seven are girls and one boy, ages 2 to 10 years old, said Tehama County sheriff's Det. Chad Dada.
Dada said Martin's wife, Virginia Martin, has been cooperative and is not a suspect in the case.
Cohen said Ralph Martin had unsupervised access to the children "when his wife would leave to run errands and go shopping."
"She was licensed by the state and he was listed on the license as a person in the home," the District Attorney said. "It appears the abuse has gone on for at least three years."
Before moving to Tehama County, Virginia Martin ran a daycare center out of her home in Southern California, according to Cohen.
When Martin appeared in court for felony arraignment and a bail hearing on Nov. 8, Judge Jonathan W. Skillman set his bail at $2 million.
"When we file additional charges with the court, we will seek to have Martin's bail raised again," said the district attorney.
Cohen is also asking for the public's assistance in identifying any other potential victims.
Call Dada at 529-7920 or Dave Baker at 529-3590.