Man gets 11-year sentence for sex assault on child
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | January 05,2013
BENNINGTON — A 24-year-old Pownal man who pleaded guilty in October to sexually assaulting a 4-year-old child was sentenced Friday to serve 11 years to life in prison, with 11 years the minimum he will serve.
Stephen J. Martin was arraigned in Bennington criminal court in August 2011 on a felony count of cruelty to a child younger than 10 and a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to a child younger than 10. He pleaded guilty to the felony charge on Oct. 1 and the state agreed to dismiss the misdemeanor during Martin’s sentencing.
Martin was arrested after a woman reported to police that he was found having sexual contact with a 4-year-old girl at a home in Pownal on Aug. 3, 2011.
The woman’s daughter, who has a relationship with Martin, told police she was the one who saw him with the child. She said she yelled at Martin and then he left the house, indicating he planned to commit suicide.
The woman later told police that Martin had been been involved in the child’s life since the child was 9 months old.
The felony charge against Martin carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison but Bennington County Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Christina Rainville asked Judge Cortland Corsones to sentence Martin to at least 15 years.
Andrea Mook, an early childhood mental health clinician with United Counseling Services in Bennington, testified that the child, who is now 6, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and takes anti-anxiety medication.
Rainville referred to the child’s age and her medication as evidence of the effect on the child, who Rainville called “so very little.”
Rainville said Martin had shown “absolutely no remorse, really” and blamed the assault on alcohol and drugs. She quoted a report prepared by the Vermont Department of Corrections in which a doctor who met with Martin said that Martin “does not believe his behavior has in any way been harmful to (the girl.)”
Frederick Bragdon, who represented Martin, asked Corsones to sentence his client to serve a minimum of 7½ years. Bragdon said he believed it would be better for everyone in Martin’s family if he were to get treatment sooner rather than later.
In Vermont, sex offenders don’t get treatment until they are close to the end of their term.
Bragdon said that what the state pointed to as insensitivity to the impact of the sexual assault on the child would be addressed when Martin got treatment.
Before he was sentenced, Martin was given a chance to speak.
“Your honor, I’ve had countless nights to think about what I would say when this day came and the only thing I would like to do is I would like to apologize to (the children involved) and that’s all I’d like to say,” he said.
Corsones, before sentencing Martin, said the incident was “nothing less than horrific” and said he was concerned that Martin’s remorse seemed “guarded.”
Martin was sentenced to serve 10 years for the sex assault and an additional year for a felony charge of obstructing justice, which involved contacting a woman from prison in an attempt to influence her testimony.