Decorated San Antonio sergeant on trial, accused in child sex assaults

October 2, 2018

A decorated U.S. Army sergeant who did tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and worked in military intelligence at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston admitted to some of the allegations of aggravated sexual assault of a child against him after he tried to commit suicide, a witness testified Tuesday morning.

Martin Balleza, 39, is on trial in state district court, charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child stemming from an outcry by a young girl in February 2016.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Balleza allegedly had sexual intercourse with a girl, 13, more than once. He also is accused of fondling two other girls, 7 and 9, and allegedly attempted to sexually assault another girl, 14. Some of the girls were relatives.

Reports released at the time indicated that the defendant was a babysitter for some of his victims.

Balleza was an active duty staff sergeant at the time of the alleged incidents. He was assigned to the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, joined the Army in 1997 and worked as a chemical operations specialist. He has been deployed three times to Afghanistan and once to Iraq, and received numerous medals of commendation, an Army spokeswoman said in a statement released at the time. His current military standing is unclear.

Bexar County assistant district attorneys Daryl Harris and Denise Hairston are prosecuting the case. Balleza is represented by defense attorney Monica E. Guerrero.

The case is being heard in the 399th state District Court, presided by Judge Frank J. Castro.

If convicted, Balleza faces up to life in prison.

This is a developing story.

Elizabeth Zavala is a courts and crime reporter in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | ezavala@express-news.net | Twitter: @elizabeth2863

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