A shadow looms over the first week of school at Goleta’s El Camino Elementary after Martin Corral, a teacher at the school, was arrested August 30 for allegedly molesting an 11-year-old Santa Barbara County boy.
According to Ventura authorities, Corral befriended the boy’s parents, who agreed to allow Corral to take the boy to Ventura. When the child returned, he told his mother what happened, said Ventura police Sgt. Jack Richards said. Richards declined to reveal details about the alleged incident because of the victim’s age. He did allege, however that after a month-long investigation, detectives concluded the man was participating in lewd conduct. It is not known whether the boy is a student at El Camino.
Corral, who is out on $50,000 bail after being arrested August 30, was born and raised in Santa Barbara and has been teaching at El Camino since 2005. Though currently on unpaid administrative leave, Corral teaches at the New Learning Center, a pullout program for children with learning deficits. There, he works with students lacking in reading and language arts skills in small group settings. Previously, Corral taught at Isla Vista Elementary School from 1995 to 2001.
Goleta Union Superintendent Kathleen Boomer said Corral was “very well-respected and quite popular” with both students and teachers and said that district officials are “completely surprised” about the allegations raised against Corral. She had never heard any complaints about the man, who was described by others as nicely dressed and one of the kind. Corral, who helped translate parent-teacher meetings at the predominately Hispanic school, was also reportedly working on getting his administrative credential.
Corral also has worked extensively with Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days event. A member of the board of directors since 2004, he first joined Fiesta in 1993 as a Mexican folklorico dancer. He joined the Spirit of Fiesta Committee and the Noches de Ronda Committee in 1996 and began co-chairing Noches de Ronda in 2005. “We are aware of the allegations,” said Old Spanish Days executive director Sarah O’Connell, who added that Old Spanish Days had no evidence or allegations regarding any possible misconduct by Corral related to Fiesta. Corral remains a member of the board, and Old Spanish Days will wait to let the judicial process run its course before making decisions on Corral’s future, O’Connell said. When asked what kind of person Corral was, O’Connell declined to comment.
A search warrant was served at both El Camino and at Corral’s home in Ventura the day of his arrest. The search at the school took place beginning at 7 a.m. to avoid much conflict when students arrived at school. Richards wouldn’t reveal what, if any evidence was retrieved from Corral’s classroom and home, but did say the police department has reason to believe there could be other victims, either in Santa Barbara or Ventura. Corral was at school when authorities arrived and was brought in for questioning. He was later arrested in Ventura. Corral, 36, was booked into Ventura County Jail, where he posted bond not long after. He didn’t respond to phone calls or an email from the Independent, and it is not known whether he has obtained legal representation. Richards said Corral didn’t have any prior arrests, and a search of Ventura County court records showed just a minor traffic violation. No El Camino students had come forward to school teachers or staff with any information about Corral, Boomer said.
Anyone with information on Corral should call Ventura Police Detectives at (805) 339-4465.