Editor’s note: Some language in this article may be difficult for some readers to read.
Earlier this week, KTSM employee, Rubén Olague reached out to El Paso News asking that we investigate a failure with the station’s management to protect KTSM employees and school children who visit the television station. Olague shared with us that several weeks ago, a KTSM reporter found that an employee they work with at the station is a registered sex offender.
Olague told us that at least three female KTSM employees have told him that they are uncomfortable working at the station because of the registered sexual offender.
We investigated the individual, Gabriel Medrano, a ten-year veteran of KTSM. Medrano, according to The Texas Public Sex Offender Website, was convicted of Possession of Child Pornography in May 2000. According to the offender registry, Medrano’s public record registration showing his status as a sexual offender, his requirement to be listed in the public state-run website is “lifetime.” This means that he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Texas law requires a minimum of ten years of registration on the sexual offender public database but can order a lifetime registration for certain convictions. It is the “particularly egregious sex crimes” that result in a lifetime registration requirement. Trafficking in child pornography is one charge that requires a lifetime registration. Medrano’s risk assessment is listed at the second most severe level – two.
The Texas Code Criminal Procedure (Title 1, Chapter 62) defines the risk assessment assigned to each offender. There are three levels. Medrano was assigned a level two, or moderate risk by the Texas Risk Assessment Review Committee. A level two assessment is assigned to an offender that “poses a moderate danger to the community and might continue to engage in criminal sexual conduct.”
According to an El Paso Times article on February 23, 1999, Gabriel Nicolas Medrano, then 21 years-old, was arrested on February 19, 1999, on charges of having child pornography. The investigation into Medrano, according to the newspaper account, was started by a detective in San Bernadino, California who was tracking child pornography on the internet. The detective, Mike DiMatteo, contacted Medrano through a chatroom, whereupon Medrano, according to the newspaper account, “sent pornographic materials depicting children” to the detective.
According to the July 8, 1999 criminal indictment, Medrano was charged with two counts of Possession of Child Pornography. The indictment states that Medrano possessed “visual material, visually depicting a child younger than 18 years of age engaging in sexual conduct.” A second criminal indictment published on December 5, 2001 accused Medrano of Aggravated Sexual Assault, upon a child that is “younger than 14 years of age,” around May 1998.
We need your support to keep delivering the news and information that is important to you. We are seeking to raise $5,000 to cover our costs through the end of the year. We would not be asking if we did not need your support.
The county’s online criminal records look up service shows that Medrano was also charged with Aggravated Kidnapping in the 2001 case. The 2001 cases were dismissed on January 3, 2002. On May 3, 2000, Medrano pleaded guilty to the Possession of Child Pornography charges and was sentenced to ten years of “Shock/Probation” and no community service as per the Amended Sentence dated August 23, 2000.
Olague told us that “several weeks ago a KTSM reporter found Gabriel Medrano’s background on the Internet.” El Paso News has chosen not to publish the name of the reporter to protect their job. According to Olague, “three [KTSM] coworkers” have accused Medrano “of harassment,” because he “was constantly making comments about them, taking unwanted pictures of at least one of them, and also telling her that he liked to be called ‘daddy’.”
Olague sent an email to Nexstar reporting what he “considered a hostile, unhealthy, environment.” Olague added that “management said it was not aware of Medrano’s background.” Nexstar management reported to Olague that Medrano “had not done anything wrong.”
However, Olague says that he followed up with Nexstar management because “students and children come into the station unaware of the kind of employee” they may encounter during their visit. Olague wrote us that “I was very vocal about protecting those who, unknowingly, have to come into contact with Medrano.”
Olague told us that after corporate officials told him that “nothing could be done,” he felt he needed to let the community know. Olague added that what he “considered was the worst part of the situation was that HR director, Clis Calleros, asked me and, I believe, the others to not say anything about Medrano’s background.”
We asked Olague what his intention was in bringing this to us. He wrote, “as I explained to you [the author], it is impossible for me to stay silent about this issue, especially because I hold a doctorate in Education.” He added, “if I stay silent, I betray the very essence of protecting children from individuals like Medrano.” Olague wrote to us that he is concerned because when children visit the station, “I am sure every parent would like to be given the choice to send his or her child to the TV station.” He added that “the basis of our way of life: [is] choice.” Olague concluded, “additionally, I believe all coworkers should have the choice to work with him or not.”
We asked Olague what the status of his complaints to management were. He replied that “my last conversation with management was that the corporation had closed the case.”
According to our conversations with Olague, television anchors Estela Casas and Natassia Paloma were aware of the concerns of some of their co-workers. We sent an email to Casas and Paloma asking for comment. Both did not respond to our request. We also sent an email to David Candelaria, the Vice-President and General Manager of KTSM and Chris Babcock, the News Director, asking them for their comment. Both replied in an email with “per company policy, requests like this have to go through the Chief Communications Officer, Gary Weitman.”
Gary Weitman replied to the email that Candelaria copied him with my request. Weitman, according to his email response, is Nexstar Media Group’s EVP/Chief Communications Officer. Weitman wrote that Nexstar “will decline to comment.”