Private school art teacher charged with sexually abusing 2 students for years

Oscar Martinez

A veteran art instructor at a Near North Side private school was charged Tuesday with sexually abusing two of his students over a period of years beginning in 2010. Oscar Luis Martinez, 68, taught the girls at school and in his home during weekly private art lessons, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

Martinez abused one girl between 2010 and 2018 when she was 10- to 17-years-old, according to Murphy. The girl told investigators that Martinez commented about her body and began talking about sex and giving her massages when she was 13, Murphy said. The prosecutor also detailed allegations of inappropriate touching over the course of years.

The girl declined money to pose nude for Martinez when she was 14, Murphy said, but she allegedly agreed to pose in a bra and underwear while he took pictures. Martinez used the photos to create a nude painting of the girl, Murphy alleged.

Murphy said the girl’s mother saw the painting about a year later, but the girl denied that she was the person in the painting. The mother then confronted Martinez, who allegedly said he wouldn’t show the painting until she turned 18.

When the girl was 16, Martinez made “multiple” requests to have sex with the girl, but she declined, Murphy said.

The girl outcried to another girl in May 2020. The other girl is the second alleged victim. According to Murphy, that girl described similar conduct and said Martinez created a nude painting of her after she posed in a bra and leggings at the age of 17.

Both alleged victims filed police reports in January of this year, and CPD detectives launched an investigation. That same month, Martinez posted one victim’s nude painting on Facebook, Murphy said.

Martinez was arrested on July 4 to face two felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Murphy said investigators have been speaking with a third former student about similar allegations, but no charges have been filed in that matter.

Private defense attorney Hal Garfinkel said Martinez is a prominent artist who taught at Chicago Grammar School for 15 years until COVID arrived last year. Martinez, who is divorced and has two children, has no criminal background, Garfinkel said.

Judge Susana Ortiz set bail at $25,000 and ordered Martinez to avoid contact with anyone under the age of 18. She said he must go onto electronic monitoring if he posts the mandatory $2,500 deposit.

Martinez is listed as “artist in residence” on the school’s website.

According to his professional website, Martinez received a bachelor’s degree in medical art from the University of Illinois Medical Center. He has painted murals “throughout the city” and has been appointed to various positions by elected officials, the site says.

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