Sex molestation ring busted in Clovis
Police say a Clovis home was used as a sex club between adults and at least 18 preteen girls, and reports show the case came to their attention after a 9-year-old girl confided in her teacher.
Although dirty and vacant, the house at 700 East 10th Street appeared to have had children in the area until recently. A few broken dolls lay scattered Tuesday afternoon in the yard, a stuffed animal rested on the roof, and closed curtains were printed with scenes of cartoon insects and balloons.
According to police records, a student at Parkview Elementary, met with her teacher and principal on Sept. 16. Police began an investigation that led to the Sept. 22 arrest of Anastacio Esquebel, 21, who told police that a number of other adults were also involved in sexual activity with children at the house.
On Tuesday afternoon, police arrested Billy Martin, 49, for child abuse and criminal sexual contact with a minor less than 13; Martin’s wife, Jeanette Martin, 44, was also arrested and charged with child abuse.
Esquebel is being held on a $1 million bond for six counts of criminal sexual penetration and six counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor under 12. Billy Martin is being held on a $100,000 bond; Jeanette Martin was released on a $10,000 bond.
Detective Kirk Roberts said three other suspects are not being named, but police have issued a warrant for the arrest of Harry Robbs, 40, on eight counts of criminal sexual contact with a minor under 13 and are asking the public for help in locating him, as well as other children who may have been victimized.
“We have yet to find Harry Robbs and we’d very much like to find him,” Roberts said. “We didn’t want to release information earlier out of concern for the other suspects fleeing the area. We believe that may be what happened with Harry Robbs. Once we arrested Anastacio Esquebel, word got out very quickly.”
The Martins lived at the 10th Street home until recently and police said Robbs apparently lived there as well. Roberts said the house appears to have been used as a site to attract children, most of whom were known by but not related to the adults.
“A lot of (the incidents) occurred at this house,” Roberts said. “Pedophiles usually work with kids they meet through regular social settings, and then do grooming, which means building trust, building a relationship of sorts.”
Neighbors said the suspects used toys and candy to lure children into the house.
Roberts said a Clovis school program to help students identify “good touch” and “bad touch” was instrumental in helping the schools and then police learn about the situation.
“What we had was the initial disclosures from Parkview Elementary, then we had another disclosure where the same perpetrator names and some of the same victim names were coming up,” Roberts said. “I think it’s safe to say this has been going on for several months. Most of the information we’ve been getting was through this past summer, vacation time for the kids.”
Clovis Superintendent Neil Nuttall said he was glad the schools began the program.
“It was very apparent that these students were equipped to make a report to the people they had trust in and relied upon, and that was their teachers and principal,” Nuttall said. “I feel horrible, of course, that this kind of behavior is happening but we’re pleased we’re responding to it.”
“This is an incident where everyone sprang into action,” Nuttall said. “For a long time our staff have been trained to recognize sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, and we have a good relationship with law enforcement.”