An 18-Year-Old Woman Is Charged With Rape After Sex With Boy, 15, in Public Library Lot
FlaglerLive | December 29, 2014
Before dawn the morning after Christmas—at around 3 a.m.—a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy was on patrol near the public library on Palm Coast Parkway when he saw a Chrysler van in the lot of the library. The van was “rocking back and forth,” in the deputy’s telling, according to a police report. The deputy shined his light through the rear driver’s side window and saw two people having sex. He then asked the couple to stop, put their pants on and get out of the vehicle.
Before long, the deputy learned that the woman was 18, the man—the boy—was 15. The boy “was extremely intoxicated,” according to the report. The deputy called for a supervisor and an ambulance, and the boy was medically cleared at the scene. The deputy then sent another cop to the boy’s mother’s address nearby, in Palm Coast’s W Section, and bring the boy’s mother to the scene.
The boy’s mother arrived shortly and told the deputy that she’d told the woman to stay away from her son before. The deputy asked if she wanted to press charges. The boy’s mother did.
Under the circumstances, the deputy, who had exercised every means of discretion available, had no choice. Gabriella Martinez, who goes by Gabby, was charged with sexual battery—that is, rape, under Florida law—a first-degree felony (although under Florida law, when the act is consensual in such circumstances, the charge can be reduced).After reading Martinez her Miranda rights, the deputy asked her—and, later, the boy—what had happened. The couple were at a house party on Bracken Lane in Palm Coast the previous hours. The boy had known Martinez five or six months. When he was ready to leave, she offered to give him a ride home. On the way, they pulled into the library parking lot and, according to both, had consensual sex (without protection, the arrest report notes). The charge’s severity, however, is also related to the fact that it it includes “sexual assault by a custodian,” meaning that the boy was in Martinez’s charge when the act occurred, since she was providing him a ride home.
Martinez’s bond was set at $10,000. She had her first appearance before Circuit Judge J. David Walsh later that day and bonded out, with a set of conditions. She is to have no contact with the alleged victim. She may not consume alcohol or illegal drugs. And she is to have no unsupervised visits with any minors. (Martinez works at a local Taco Bell.)
The case appears to fall within Florida’s 2007 Romeo and Juliet law, which seeks to limit the legal consequences on people within certain age brackets who engage in illegal sex. The victim must be at least 14 and the offender must be no more than four years older at the time of the act. The victim must have consented to the sexual activity.
The law does not make the sexual activity legal: it is still a criminal act as far as the older offender is concerned, and the offender may be punished accordingly. But whereas before 2007, convicted offenders were also automatically branded as sexual predators or sexual offenders, and had to remain so for at least 20 years, with burdensome registry and other requirements, the 2007 law makes it possible for the offender to petition the court and remove the sexual offender or predator designation.