El Prado man charged with sexually abusing a child


The Taos County Sheriff's Office arrested an El Prado man on Wednesday (Dec. 13) in connection to an investigation into child sex abuse that may have gone for a period of several years.

Martin Melendez, 59, has been charged with criminal sexual penetration, contact and exploitation of a minor under 13-years-old, as well as custodial interference.

The Taos office of the state Children, Youth and Families Department initiated the investigation, which was later assumed by the sheriff's office.

Deputy Shana McTague conducted an initial interview with family members of the alleged victim, who revealed the possible extent of the alleged abuse.

"McTague was assigned to conduct the initial fact finding investigation not only because she is a female deputy but because of her excellent investigative skills," said Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe.

An investigator with Community Against Violence conducted a second interview, which allowed Hogrefe to gather details regarding the allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation. "Enough information was gathered to obtain a search warrant for the suspect's house and an arrest warrant for him," Hogrefe said.

The warrants were assigned to Detective Marvin Armijo and other deputies, who located and arrested Melendez at his El Prado residence this week.

Armijo searched the man's home for evidence of sexual exploitation of the abuse and related pornography. The search uncovered computer hard drives and other storage devices that may support the allegations.

"It will take us some time and the assistance of the DPS Crime Lab to analyze the hard drives and other storage devices," Hogrefe said," but I am sure we got what we were after."

Melendez was incarcerated in the Taos County Adult Detention Center, where he is being held on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary examination in Taos Magistrate Court on Thursday (Jan. 11).