January 21, 2006

Former pastor gets four-year sentence

Santa Cruz Sentinel

By Cathy Smith
sentinel staff writer
In a crowded courtroom heavy with emotion, a former pastor and Pajaro Valley school district employee was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for molesting a 14-year-old girl in late 1993 or early 1994.

Steven Montez Martinez, 49, of Watsonville faced a maximum five-year sentence after jurors convicted him last month of molesting the teen on four occasions. His attorney, J.J. Hamlyn, said he will be eligible for parole in two years.

There were tears on both sides of the courtroom, including from the victim's sister, a 28-year-old Watsonville woman who said she was also molested by Martinez as a teen member of his now-defunct New Jerusalem church. Because of child molestation and statute-of-limitations laws, he was charged with acts against one teen, yet two others testified of abuse that included what Martinez called "medical massages."

The victim's sister said she blamed herself at first, questioning, among other things, why he targeted her and why she hadn't been "smarter." But she said she has come to understand it was not her fault, despite how hard it was to believe "a man of God could hurt me so bad and cover it up so well."

Posted by kshaw at January 21, 2006 08:13 AM