Man allegedly has sexually inappropriate contact with 9- or 10-year-old girl

A former resident of Bellingham’s Puget neighborhood is suspected of having sexually inappropriate contact with a girl he was familiar with who was 9 or 10 years old at the time.

Carlos Martinez-Esteban, 31, was booked into Whatcom County Jail on Thursday on suspicion of first-degree child molestation, according to jail records, and is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

The crime was reported to the Bellingham Police in 2016, but had occurred a few years earlier, according to information provided to The Bellingham Herald by Lt. Claudia Murphy. Martinez-Esteban was living in eastern Washington, and after a warrant was issued for his arrest, he was taken to Whatcom County last week.

According to Whatcom County Superior Court records, the victim told a friend of the inappropriate contact and then in November of 2016 told a counselor at her school that Martinez-Esteban allegedly had groped her on one occasion and rubbed himself against her on another while she was in the third or fourth grade.

Martinez-Esteban moved to Wapato during the summer of 2015, court documents state, and the then-12-year-old victim went for a visit and spent most of the summer at his house. During that time, the victim said Martinez-Esteban rubbed her sexually and put money down her shirt. Those incidents were referred to the Wapato Police Department.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.