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Delhi Unified School District counselor arrested on child molestation charges

A 58-year old college outreach counselor in the Delhi Unified School District has been arrested on suspicion of child molestation, Atwater police said Wednesday.

Juan Manuel Martinez was taken into custody around 1 p.m. on Tuesday at Delhi High School, after a four-month investigation, according to Detective Armando Echevarria. He's accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl.

Police believe the molestation happened when the victim and her family visited Martinez at his Atwater home in August 2008. The victim, who is disabled, confided in her parents about the alleged abuse, Echevarria said.

The victim does not live in Merced County, Echevarria said, adding that her parents contacted a Northern California police department about the allaged abuse. That department forwarded the investigation to Atwater police.

Echevarria said the victim was abused on at least two occasions. He did not disclose how Martinez knew the girl.

Michelle Ellis, the district's assistant superintendent, said Martinez has been placed on administrative leave. "We cannot comment further, as it is a confidential personnel matter," she said.

Martinez was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of two counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child. He posted his $200,000 bail on Tuesday.

Echevarria said police do not believe there are other victims in the case.

For more information, read Wednesday's Merced Sun-Star.