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With victims unable to testify, health-care aide avoids sex crime convictions in St. Louis County

With victims unable to testify, health-care aide avoids sex crime convictions in St. Louis County


UPDATED with copy of his resignation letter and information on judge

CLAYTON • St. Louis County prosecutors dropped rape, sodomy and sexual assault charges against a health-care and hospice aide, officials say, because the elderly victims have either died or suffer from dementia so severely they could not help the case.

Those felony charges were erased and replaced Friday with four misdemeanors of third-degree elder abuse.

Walter Javier Martinez pleaded guilty and was sentenced Friday to one year in jail on each of the charges, to run concurrently. But Circuit Judge Joseph L. Walsh III suspended that sentence and put Martinez on two years’ probation.

Martinez, 45, lives in the 400 block of Johanna Place Drive in west St. Louis County.

The son-in-law of one of the victims said he was angry that the charges were reduced but understood why they were.

“He should be put in a room of other people like him with a sign on his back that says, ‘Here I am. Have at me,’” said Richie Plass, of Green Bay, Wis. “He knew these women had dementia. He knew they couldn’t speak, and he still made the decision to do these acts.”

Plass said his mother-in-law was 80 when Martinez assaulted her while bathing her at Bethesda Meadow, at 322 Old State Road in Ellisville.

Martinez had told a therapist that he inappropriately touched women while bathing them. He went to his boss and confessed what he had done. He was charged with deviate sexual assault for groping Plass’ mother-in-law and another woman, in her late 90s, at Sunrise Assisted Living, 1880 Clarkson Road in Chesterfield.

Then, a few weeks later, he was charged with rape and sodomy when another victim came forward. St. Louis County police said Martinez committed forcible rape and forcible sodomy between May 22, 2012, and June 1, 2012, when he worked as a hospice nurse’s aide for a company called Odyssey Hospice. His work with the hospice patients included bathing them, police say. The victim was at Big Bend Woods Healthcare Center, at 110 Highland Avenue in Valley Park, at the time of the alleged abuse.

Martinez denied the rape and sodomy allegations.

Ed Magee, assistant to prosecutor Robert McCulloch, explained Monday that prosecutors reduced the charges because the victims in the deviate sexual assault cases couldn’t help corroborate his confession. The victim at Sunrise Assisted Living has died, and Plass’ mother-in-law is unable to testify because she is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Plass said his mother-in-law was 83 now and still living at Bethesda.

The victim who alleged rape and sodomy was in her 90s and has also died. Matthew Radefeld, the attorney for Martinez, said the rape allegations were 14 months old and involved a hospice patient who had been verbally and physically abusive with Martinez and other male caregivers. Others were around whenever Martinez tended to her, Radefeld said.

The woman making the allegations was not a good witness for prosecutors, Radefeld said, and during a deposition even pointed to the defense attorney rather than Martinez as the attacker.

Radefeld said he was going to ask the judge to throw out the confession and believed the judge would do so. Without it, prosecutors had nothing, he said.

As part of the guilty plea, Magee said, Martinez has to surrender his health-care license and cannot work with the elderly. Radefeld said these misdemeanors didn’t require Martinez to register as a sex offender.

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