On September 20, 2019, the Fresno Bee reported that a 45-year-old Fresno, California Jehovah’s Witness pleaded “no contest” on Friday to charges he sexually assaulted a young girl from his church who was only 17 years old. The man was identified as Martin Phillip Ramos. An additional surprise was reported in the article: The accused worked as a “police dispatcher in Madera.”
Martin Phillip Ramos was supposed to begin his preliminary hearing before Judge Arlan Harrell on Friday, but prosecutor Nicole Galstan offered a plea deal and Ramos took it. He had previously pleaded “not guilty” to felony oral copulation, possession and distribution of child pornography, and misdemeanor child molestation. According to the Fresno Bee, he faced up to seven years in prison if he had been convicted on all charges.
The Fresno Bee also reported that part of the agreement was related to Ramos’ plea fo “no contest” to a felony count of oral copulation of a person under 18 years of age and another misdemeanor count for child molestation.
Judge Harrell proposed a sentence of 270 days in county jail and three years probation. He could get a prison term of two years if he violates the terms of his sentence. The sentencing date is scheduled for Oct. 18. Ramos must also register as a sex offender when he is released. Ramos’ parents were in the courtroom watching as he was handcuffed by a Fresno County Sheriff’s deputy. The judge ordered Ramos to be jailed while he awaits his sentencing.
Fresno police began investigating Ramos after receiving an anonymous tip. They learned Ramos met the victim and her family while he was an elder at the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall located in the 4000 block of West McKinley Avenue.
According to the report, Ramos mentored the girl, and the two communicated through text messages. At one point, the two exchanged “inappropriate” photos and their relationship turned physical.
So now the open question is how the local Kingdom Hall elders will deal with one of their own? Will he (and/or possibly the young woman) be “disfellowshipped” and shunned by the other members of the congregation. Or will he, like so many other elders that have been caught in the same trap, simply be reproved and eventually returned to his ministerial servant position?