A Colchester man has been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy.
Paul Martell, 53, has been imprisoned since his arrest in March 2016. He pleaded guilty last November to one count of aggravated sexual assault against a minor, a charge that carried a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life.
At a hearing in Chittenden County Superior Court last Thursday, prosecutors asked to tack on 20 years to the minimum sentence, given Martell has completed two rounds of treatment after a prior sex abuse conviction in 2003.
“Treatment does not work for Paul Martell,” state’s attorney Dana DiSano said.
Martell previously served seven years for sexually abusing another minor he knew. He was released to furlough status in 2010, granted parole in 2015 and maxed out his sentence a year later.
No witnesses testified during the hour-long hearing, though DiSano played a video showing the victim’s interview with police. Prosecutors played the same video during Martell’s bail hearing last April. Martell stared at the table in front of him for most of the 32-minute clip, twice reaching for tissues to wipe his eyes.
Martell’s attorney, William Norful, argued for leniency by pointing to his client’s age and his remorse, which Norful said is demonstrated by Martell’s attempt to commit suicide shortly after family members confronted him about the abuse.
Norful said he was certain if Martell were ever free again, he would be under intense supervision and free from the “temptation” that led to this new crime.
Martell told the court he was truly sorry for his actions and planned to check himself into a hospital once he’s free to treat the “underlying problem, which is what happened to me as a child,” alluding to his own abuse.
“Suicide,” Martell added, “that’s always right there, because I’m disgusted with myself.”
But DiSano said Martell’s “premeditated” and “predatory” behavior, shown during a nine-year-long abuse of a former victim and repeated offense after treatment, shows he’s deserving of the longer sentence.
Judge David Fenster agreed. He said Martell’s abuse has caused immeasurable harm to his victims, and the sentence needed to address the risk Martell posed to the community.
“That risk cannot be overstated,” Fenster said.