Sex offender pleads not guilty to sexually assaulting 12-year-old boy

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Paul A. Martell

Paul A. Martell

A Colchester man pleaded not guilty to three felonies in Chittenden County Superior Court on Friday after police say he sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy.

Paul A. Martell, 52, faces two counts of sexually assaulting a victim under 13 and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. If convicted, Martell could be sentenced to a maximum of two life sentences in prison.

Martell is a registered sex offender stemming from two convictions of sexual assault on a child in 2003. He served 12 years before being released in February 2015. His parole expired last May, court records show.

Martell’s arrest Thursday came a day after Colchester police responded to a reported suicide attempt at his residence. His ex-wife, Donna, told police he took a handful of pills. Martell was drinking beer in a recliner when police arrived, court records show.

Police say they found a prescription bottle for the antidepressant trazodone. Martell admitted to taking three or four pills and agreed to be transported to the hospital, court records show.

Police say a University of Vermont Medical Center doctor called the Vt. Department for Children and Families later that day to report a 12-year-old patient said he’d been touched inappropriately.

The boy said Martell threatened to kill himself if anyone found out, court records show.

In an interview at the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations on Thursday, investigators say the boy seemed uncomfortable.

“He was very fidgety, laid on the floor and covered his head with two pillows,” the affidavit reads. “It appeared to us that he was embarrassed.”

Eventually, the boy said Martell performed oral sex on him twice. The first incident occurred in the shower, the second in the boy’s bedroom. Investigators estimate the sexual contact began last December, court records show.

Martell often showed his penis and ask the boy to touch it, which the boy did unwillingly. The boy then said he never performed oral sex despite Martell asking him to do so, court records show.

Soon after, the boy asked to end the interview. He promised his statements were true before telling investigators “he was just a little boy with ‘scars,’” court records show.

CUSI investigators spoke with Martell at the hospital around 4 p.m. yesterday.

Martell said he knew why they were there and confessed to performing oral sex twice before admitting he told two relatives the boy’s accusations were true. Martell said that’s why he took the pills, court records show.

Martell said the boy touched his penis more than 10 times. When asked why he started the abuse, Martell said, “I don’t know.” He apologized for what happened and said it wasn’t the boy’s fault, court records show.

“He hadn’t done nothing,” Martell told police. He was then arrested and lodged at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, court records show.

Arraigned by video Friday morning, Martell wore a gray pocketed T-shirt and didn’t speak during the three-minute hearing; his public defender, Stacie Johnson, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

Chittenden County state’s attorney Dana DiSano cited Martell’s prior convictions in her request to hold him without bail.

“There are no conditions or set of conditions that could keep [Martell] away from being alone with a child at any time,” DiSano’s motion reads.

Judge Michael Kupersmith agreed to consider the motion since Martell could face two life sentences. He also set conditions that Martell must not contact the boy or his family by any means.

An evidentiary bail hearing is set for March 30.