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Former Hernando deputy charged with false imprisonment, battery

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Published:   |   Updated: February 25, 2014 at 11:47 AM

BROOKSVILLE - The State Attorney's Office has filed charges against William Martinez, the former Hernando County deputy accused of holding a woman against her will last month and forcing her to perform a sexual act.

Martinez, 45, has been charged with false imprisonment, a third-degree felony, and battery, a third-degree misdemeanor, according to court documents filed on Monday.

Sheriff Al Nienhuis fired Martinez just days after the incident, citing immoral conduct and not telling the truth.

A 20-year-old woman went to the sheriff's office on Jan. 23 "to report that she was battered and held against her will by Hernando County Deputy William Martinez earlier that morning," according to a probable cause affidavit.

The victim was in a traffic crash in Spring Hill around 2 a.m., the affidavit shows. The Florida Highway Patrol worked the accident and Martinez, a patrol deputy, responded. The victim was found not to be under the influence, and as the scene cleared, Martinez told her to get in his patrol car for a ride home, although the victim "had family members present that were capable of taking her home."

After arriving at the woman's home about three miles away, Martinez radioed to the communication center that he dropped his passenger off, but drove away with her in the back seat.

Martinez then drove to a vacant lot on Kirkland Avenue, parked and walked to the back of the car where the woman was sitting, according to the affidavit.

"Martinez then opened the rear door of the patrol vehicle and told (the victim) that he did her a favor (by her not getting arrested for DUI) and that she needed to do him a favor ...," the affidavit shows.

Martinez then forced the woman to perform a sexual act, the affidavit shows.

The woman later told detectives she was held against her will, and did not want to perform the sexual act but feared retaliation.

Martinez drove the woman home, and she held on to DNA evidence that later was matched to Martinez. The police vehicle's GPS also corroborated her story, according to the affidavit.

In an interview the following day, Martinez said he drove the woman home after the crash but denied he had any sexual contact with her.

Martinez was arrested on Jan. 27, and was released on $2,500 bail shortly after being booked.

His attorney has filed a written plea of not guilty.

Last month, Sheriff Al Nienhuis said Martinez was not charged with a sex crime because the incident did not meet the statutory requirements. Assistant State Attorney Sonny McCathran, who is prosecuting the case, said Tuesday the "defendant's actions do not meet the statutory elements of sexual battery."

At the time of Martinez's arrest, Nienhuis said the former deputy had "inappropriate contact" with the woman he had given a ride home to, but failed to elaborate further.

Martinez worked for the sheriff's office since 1992 and was making $58,491.68 per year, according to records.

He worked as K-9 unit coordinator from 2006 until 2011, after an internal investigation found Martinez was more interested in "finding the bad guy" than completing paperwork and other administrative duties. Internal Affairs Investigator Sgt. Kathleen Reid also found Martinez signed time cards for his subordinates, improperly logged evidence and did not tell the truth while being investigated by his agency.

Martinez was investigated for not reporting a traffic ticket after driving more than 100 mph in Georgia in a sheriff's office vehicle in 2010. He was suspended for three days without pay and put on 30 days probation.

Martinez was awarded $1,075.44 in overtime compensation from the sheriff's office from a lawsuit.

He was named deputy of the year in 2002, and has received the medal of valor. Annual reviews praised him for acting as mentor and teaming up with other deputies to pursue wanted subjects.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5283

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