AUSTIN — Amid questionable city government decisions and a surge of violent crime in Texas’ capital city, a local judge has made it easier for a convicted child sexual predator to be released back onto the streets.
According to a Fox News report, in late December, Austin Police officers arrived to the scene of a criminal trespass call and witnessed Ronald Martin Jr. performing sex acts “on what appeared to be a young juvenile male.”
Martin already had an open warrant for failing to register as a sex offender and is also listed as a lifetime high-risk sexual offender by the Texas Department of Public Safety (including a prior conviction with a 7-year-old boy.)
Officers arrested and booked Martin in a county jail, and after interviews with he and the most recent boy, Austin municipal judge Patrick McNelis signed a warrant for second-degree felony sexual assault of a child. The judge also recommended a $1 million bond in part because “the defendant is currently in custody for failure to register as a sex offender.”
However, the next day, Martin appeared before Associate Judge Christyne Harris Schultz for a bond hearing—and she disregarded the $1 million recommendation, instead setting a surety bond of $50,000.
That means if Martin posted just 10 percent — or $5,000 — he could walk free.
Judge Schultz defended her decision.
“As a judge, I follow the code of criminal procedure, in every case,” she told Fox News. “And in determining the amount and the conditions of bail, [I] consider the financial resources and their ability to make bail, and the safety of the community and the alleged victim as well.”
Schultz’s bond also included conditions for Martin, such as wearing a GPS monitor and not having unsupervised contact with minors.
However, others think Schultz’s decision to lower the bond is a disaster.
“It’s just unconscionable that a judge that took an oath to keep the community safe, to protect children, would do something that would take a known career criminal and violent predator and put him back out in the street,” Austin Police Department Senior Officer Justin Berry told Fox News. “It’s just appalling.”
“One of the officers I’ve talked to involved in this case … is deeply hurt,” He continued. “They spent a lot of time with the victim in this case, and they feel hopeless.” Berry added separately that regarding violent and repeat offenders, there must be a “balance between protecting one’s right to bail, and ensuring the safety of the community.”
Judge Schultz’s decision is the latest in a contentious series of events in Austin. City officials—such as far-left County Attorney Jose Garza the Democrat-run Austin City Council, and their appointed city judges—have faced questions and public outcry for their version of “justice,” which has included allowing a flood of criminal (including mass shooting suspects) back onto the streets and defunding the Austin Police Department by up to $150 million, a decision which sparked a record killing spree across the city.
“This guy [Martin] felt emboldened. Look what he does, he goes across state lines and kidnaps a kid with a learning disability and brings him back to Texas and sexually assaults him,” Berry said. “That’s not OK. People should be shocked by that. If that doesn’t shock your conscience I don’t know what will.”
“The culture has really got to change,” Berry, speaking on his own behalf, told Fox News. “I think [the] city of Austin, our elected officials, really got to stop meddling and stop giving woke dictations to our magistrates.”
Martin’s next court hearing on his latest assault charge is scheduled for January 20.