Diary leads to sex assault charge

Incidents are alleged to have occurred during Jehovah's Witness visits

The Record, Waterloo Canada/November 9, 2006
By Dianne Wood

Kitchener -- When a Kitchener man inadvertently discovered a diary in his basement that had been written by his teenage daughter, he was shocked to see it contained the name of a former elder at the family's church.

The name Claude Martin was in bold, the man told a judge yesterday at Martin's trial for sexually assaulting that girl and another girl who attended Martin's Jehovah's Witnesses congregation.

Martin, 76, pleaded not guilty to sexual interference of the two girls. He allegedly touched the man's daughter with his hand some time between January, 2001 and December, 2002. He allegedly touched the other girl with his penis between January, 1988 and December, 1989.

What the girl's father read in the diary eventually led him and his wife to call police, he testified.

Although the contents of the diary weren't disclosed in court, the man's daughter testified Martin touched her buttocks with his hand and put his finger on her vagina during a Saturday morning door-to-door visit by the pair to a Kitchener home.

They were standing on a landing inside the front door, she said. The homeowner had gone downstairs briefly and his son had disappeared.

She thinks she was 10 at the time. She and Martin often made the door-to-door visits to attempt to gain adherents to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Her parents, who were usually nearby in a car with other church members making similar visits, were fine with it.

Kitchener's Ontario Court heard the girl's father found the diary by a fluke in the winter of 2005.

He heard the family dog chewing something downstairs in the basement and went to check.

The dog had a notebook. The man picked it up and scanned it.

"In bold printed letters was the name Claude Martin in the middle of the page,'' he testified.

He waited for his wife to come home, thinking she should be the one to talk to their daughter about what he read. After their talk, the man said based on what his wife told him, "There was validity to this.''

They didn't know what to do, he said. Several church elders heard about the allegation and visited their home.

"The impression we were left with was pick up the carpet and sweep it under, and carry on with your life,'' he said. "We wanted to know there was going to be something done in the organization.''

The family had attended Martin's congregation for more than a decade before leaving because of stress long before they found the diary.

The father said outside court that the church expected members to be busy at something every night of the week. He and his wife found it too much pressure, along with raising a family and other obligations.

"As far as the organization, I can't say anything negative,'' the father said outside court. "This is strictly a personal dealing. The only thing I have to say negative is how they tried to sweep it under the carpet.''

When they realized how much pressure had been lifted by quitting, they never returned to the church, he said.

The girl, who is now 16, told Crown prosecutor Mark Poland she never told her parents about the alleged sexual assault because, "It was embarrassing and private.''

She wrote details in her diary several years later because she was angry about a number of things, she said.

"A whole bunch of stuff was bothering me and I had to write it down.''

She rejected defence lawyer James Marentette's suggestion that she might have felt Martin's briefcase on her buttocks, and not his hand, while they were standing inside the home.

She said Martin had changed his briefcase from one hand to another so his hand was free to molest her.

After she and her parents reported the alleged incident to police in 2005, the girl said her parents were told about the second alleged complainant. That girl was allegedly standing up against a counter when Martin came up behind her and rubbed his pelvic area against her, she said. She, herself, never talked to that girl about those allegations, she said.

When the trial continues, the Crown will argue that the judge should admit a statement he said Martin made to police. Based on the statement, Poland will argue Martin engaged in prior discreditable conduct with yet a third female.

The trial continues on Dec. 5.

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