Kelso Child Agency Employee Arrested on Suspicion of Child Molestation

Kelso Child Agency Employee Arrested on Suspicion of Child Molestation

An employee at a local office for a state agency that fields child abuse reports was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of child molestation.

Martin Daniel Perez, 34, of Kelso, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree child molestation.

Perez made his first appearance Wednesday in Cowlitz County Superior Court. Court documents do not list a formal charge. Perez posted bail of $2,500 and his arraignment is scheduled for April 1.

A representative from the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families said Perez is an employee at the department's Kelso office. The representative declined to provide any additional details about Perez.

Nancy Gutierrez, director of communications, said the department "cannot comment on the open criminal and internal HR investigation."

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families is a state social services agency focused on the welfare of children. The agency also recruits and trains foster parents. Its local office is located at 711 Vine St. in Kelso.

According to the probable cause statement, Perez and the victim knew each other prior to the alleged crime. It was not clear whether the connection between Perez and the alleged victim was related to his work for the state agency.

The alleged crime took place from August 2018 to June 2019 when the victim was about 11.

A sexual assault protection order was issued by the court to prevent Perez from contacting the victim or anyone under age 16 unrelated to him.

According to the Cowlitz County Superior Court's website, if the state removes children from their home, the Department of Children, Youth & Families likely would be involved.

Investigations of child abuse and neglect primarily are handled by Child Protective Services and then handed off to a Department of Children, Youth & Families caseworker "if a dependency proceeding is filed," according to the website.

The Daily News