Ex-elder can't control sex urges

The Record, Ontario/December 14, 2006
By Dianne Wood

A former elder with the local Jehovah's Witnesses, who is charged with molesting two girls, admitted to police more than three years ago that he has sexual urges he can't control.

The admission came in August 2003, when police were questioning Claude Martin about an alleged incident involving a 12-year-old girl who delivered a newspaper to his home.

Martin told police that as he saw the girl approaching his home, he fondled his genitals. He was standing in his front porch and he said it's possible the girl saw him through a window.

When she got to his front door, he made conversation, asking what she was doing on the holidays, where she lived and how old she was.

When told she was 12, he commented: "Oh, you're growing up. You're getting to be a sexy-looking girl.''

The girl then said she had to go. It's unclear who called police.

During the police interview, the Kitchener man acknowledged a long-standing problem with uncontrollable sexual urges.

He said he's had the problem since he was six and experienced a "childhood trauma'' involving molestation by a nine-year-old relative.

Justice Michael Epstein will rule tomorrow on whether Martin's statement to police can be admitted as evidence at his trial.

In the statement, Martin admitted to being sexually attracted to both girls and women. He said he engaged in fantasy sex and sometimes masturbated at those times.

"I've been fighting that since I was six years old,'' he told Const. Jeff Slater. "It's never gone away.

"I'm not a bad man. I'm sick. I got something that I can't handle.''

He dismissed the episode with the delivery girl as "not that big of a big deal," according to the police statement. "Like I'm not threatening anybody. I didn't threaten this girl."

He did agree that he shouldn't have told her she was getting to be a "sexy-looking girl.''

Martin's lawyer, Jim Marentette, is trying to have the police statement excluded from Martin's trial. The 76-year-old man is charged with sexual interference of two girls who attended his church.

He allegedly touched the buttocks of a 10-year-old girl and put his finger on her vagina during a door-to-door visit by the pair to a Kitchener home to promote their religion sometime between January 2001 and December 2002.

The second girl was about 11 when she says Martin put both hands on her hips and rubbed himself against her while she was standing in his kitchen, baking him a pie, sometime between January 1988 and December 1989.

Crown prosecutor Mark Poland said he wants the 2003 statement included because "it's evidence of an impulse control failure that leads to sexual risk-taking."

Martin's lawyer argued that his client's admission to uncontrollable urges to masturbate is not "outwardly directed." There's no indication he wants to sexually touch women or girls, Marentette said.

"There's no evidence he's ever done anything close to what's alleged,'' he said.

He also noted Martin told police he could become attracted to "any sexually attractive girl or woman,'' not just girls.

"He sometimes gives in and masturbates when he fantasizes about an attractive woman,'' the lawyer said. "So what?''

Such an urge is "extraordinarily common in the population at large," Marentette said.

"He's confessing the most common condition in the world."

The Crown wants to show that if he has a propensity to do this, "he could do something else,'' Marentette said. "He masturbates and fantasizes, so of course, he'd touch a girl.''

But Poland said the statement has to be put into context. Martin made it after being arrested following a complaint about the incident with the newspaper carrier.

"He was expressing a sexual attraction to a 12-year-old,'' Poland said. "He masturbates in a situation where she could see him.''

Martin was not charged after he promised police to step down as an elder in the church and get counselling. His congregation was told he had health problems.

Martin told the police officer he'd struggled for decades trying to overcome his problem so that he could measure up to biblical and church standards.

"I'm respected in my congregation," the police statement quotes him as saying. "I'm an elder and an elder should be irreprehensible. Nobody should be able to say anything bad about him and that's bothering me because I have this problem, and I'm not irreprehensible.''

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