Student charged with sexual assault, burglary


The apartment complex near the 1000 block of cColumbus Ave. in Chico, where Morales was arrested last week. Photo credit: Ricardo Tovar

A student charged with molestation and burglary is currently booked in the Butte County jail.

Chico State administrators have been hesitant to provide information about this student, who is an employee on campus.

On August 18, the Chico Police Department responded to a call reporting a prowler lurking at the 1000 block of Columbus and West Sacramento Aves. An 18-year-old woman had reported that around 3 a.m., a man unknown to her had been touching her sexually while she slept.

When she woke up, the man fled the scene. The door of the victim’s apartment had been unlocked.

At first, police were unsuccessful in finding the suspect. Neighbors spotted a man matching the description later in the day, and he was arrested near where the initial assault took place.

The man was identified as 22-year-old Martin Morales, a Chico State student. Morales had been seen going to the doors of other nearby residences in the area before being arrested. He was booked into the Butte County jail on charges of molestation and burglary.

The case is still under investigation. Various administrators at Chico State contacted about this case have refused to release more information about how involved Morales was on campus.

Morales is still an active employee at Chico State, according to Human Resources. He has held positions as a front desk attendant for University Housing and working for student affairs as a student assistant. He also volunteers at the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry.

Morales was also confirmed for appointment on the Committee for Diversity Affairs Council as the commissioner of sustainability affairs last November.

However, Chico State’s communications department as well as the other departments Morales was employed at have been reluctant to release any information about Morales besides the fact that he is a student at Chico State.

“While the University can confirm that the suspect identified is a student at CSU, Chico, due to privacy concerns, the University cannot release further information regarding the student,” University Communications said.

When asked to clarify what privacy concerns were, Media Relations Coordinator Sean Murphy said: “It’s an active investigation and the University doesn’t comment on active investigations.”

On first contact, Student Affairs denied that Morales had ever worked for the university. The department later confirmed that he had recently been active but could not confirm what his position had held.

Associated Students denied that Morales had ever been involved at first, claiming that records are not usually kept on student members of the board, but later confirmed that Morales was previously a student assistant at AS.

When asked for comment on this matter of student safety, Trevor Guthrie, president of AS, said that he would give no comment.

This story is still developing per further information on Morales’ case.

Ricardo Tovar and Natalie Hanson can be reached at [email protected] or @tovarg13 and @NatalieH_Orion on Twitter.