KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- A Pownal man who police say a woman witnessed having sexual contact with a 5-year-old girl was sentenced Friday to serve between 10 years and the rest of his life in prison.
Stephen J. Martin, 24, pleaded not guilty in August 2011 to aggravated sexual assault on a victim under 13 years old, along with a misdemeanor county of cruelty to a child under 10. In October of that year he also pleaded not guilty to a felony count of obstructing justice and two counts of violating court imposed conditions. He pleaded guilty to the aggravated sex charge in October of this year, along with the obstruction charge and condition violations. The state dropped the cruelty charge.
Judge Cortland Corsones sentenced Martin to serve between 10 years and life on Friday for the sex charge while the other charges carried concurrent zero to six-month sentences. Martin will receive sex offender treatment towards the end of the 10-year minimum.
According to Vermont State Police, they were told by the victim's mother that she had walked into a room and seen the child in a sexual position with Martin. She told police she also noted that Martin was exposed, and after denying anything inappropriate was going on, Martin left the residence and made insinuations that he would commit suicide. Police were initially unable to locate Martin but he turned himself over to police custody after a brief period of time.
Martin had been on probation for a grand larceny charge at the time of the incident.