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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Harvey Martel, father of convicted murderer Molly Martel, is sentenced to 5-10 years in prison

NASHUA – Molly Martel finally got her say.

Speaking to her father, Harvey Martel, the convicted murderer and former high school sports star tried to explain how the sexual abuse she suffered at his hands affected her life. ...

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NASHUA – Molly Martel finally got her say.

Speaking to her father, Harvey Martel, the convicted murderer and former high school sports star tried to explain how the sexual abuse she suffered at his hands affected her life.

“You will never know or understand the impact you had and still have on me,” Martel said. “You should have been warning me about sexual offenders like yourself. That was the day I realized I could never trust anyone and I lost all respect for you.”

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Charles Temple sentenced the elder Martel to 5-10 years in prison and ordered him to register as a sexual offender more than two months after a jury found him guilty on one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault. His trial came in June, four years after Molly Martel, 26, was convicted in the stabbing death of Stephanie Campbell in Manchester. She is serving a 20-40-year sentence.

On Monday, reading from a written statement, Molly Martel said she was picked on in school and had a difficult home life after she told her mother and police about the assault. She said it led to her finding a new group of friends and that she began drinking a lot. Before that, Molly Martel was a good student and outstanding softball pitcher at Merrimack High School. She dreamed of earning an athletic scholarship to go to college.

“My whole world fell apart and I thought it was my fault, but I knew this was the only way to stop the assaults and get away from you,” she said. “It was something I did not want to live with. I hated myself.”

Martel’s testimony took up most of the first day of the trial, and she told jurors she was on the phone with her then-boyfriend, Christian Dupont, when her father knocked her onto a bed in their Merrimack home and sexually assaulted her on Nov. 14, 2002.

Public defenders Ed Cross and Steve Rosecan, questioned DNA results and changes in Molly Martel’s statements to police. They asked how Dupont could have failed to hear something going on while he was on the other end of the line. Dupont testified he was distracted by a group of friends and wasn’t listening closely to the phone call.

After her testimony, Molly Martel spent the rest of the trial in the back of the courtroom, where she was escorted by sheriff’s deputies who placed metal cuffs around her ankles – out of the view of jurors – and seated her separated by a row of seats from her family.

Harvey Martel’s new attorney, Adam Bernstein, asked Temple to impose a 2-4 year prison sentence and recommend he complete a sexual offender treatment program at a community-based facility. An expert forensic psychiatrist evaluated Harvey Martel following the jury trial and found he has a low to very low chance of re-offending, Berntstein said.

“From an emotional standpoint it makes sense why the victim and the victim’s family would ask you to impose a 10-20 year sentence,” he said. “The issue is that if we went on emotion alone, we would have a real problem in our criminal justice system.”

Assistant HIllsborough County Attorney Karrine Brobst recommended the maximum 10-20 year prison sentence.

“This is unlike other types of sexual assault. This is the worst kind of assault that can happen to a person,” she said Monday. “Molly could not have been impacted any worse than she was in this case.”

Bernstein said it is not clear whether Harvey Martel will appeal the conviction to the state Supreme Court.

A second prosecutor, Kent Smith, has known Molly Martel since she was 14 and accused her father of sexually assaulting her on Nov. 14, 2002. He said justice was done, just too late.

“I wish it had been done a little sooner,” he said. “Maybe things could have turned out a little different for Molly.”

Molly Martel, who is serving her sentence at the New Hampshire State Prison for Women in Goffstown, first accused her father of assaulting in 2004, but prosecutors dropped the charges just before a trial in 2008 when she disappeared. Harvey Martel was re-indicted in 2012. His case was delayed while Molly Martel was prosecuted – and convicted – of second-degree murder in Manchester.

Temple granted a defense motion barring prosecutors from suggesting at the trial that there was any causal link between the murder and the sexual abuse. Molly Martel’s mother was under no such prohibition on Monday.

“Molly ended up taking the wrong path because of your abuse,” Deborah Martel said. “You traumatized her so much she didn’t want to come home.”

At her trial, Molly Martel’s lawyers said that she had a history of family sexual abuse that it was a contributing factor in the crime.

“She wasn’t born to be defended in a murder case,” attorney Eric Wilson told the court. “You’ve got to wonder why. What happened in the last 23 years that put Molly Martel in that chair?”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).