James E. Martin is a sexual predator who went to prison four times in the 1980s for fondling young children.
Yesterday, Martin, 43, of 2046 Price St., was sentenced in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for sexually assaulting his fifth victim.
Judge Ruth Ann Franks sent Martin to prison for 15 years for rape and gross sexual imposition, the maximum punishment that he could receive for the two crimes.
Martin's most recent victim was a 4-year-old girl who wandered from the backyard of her grandmother's home on Price in East Toledo to search for a neighbor's missing dog.
Martin grabbed the girl in an alley and took her into his mother's nearby home, where he raped her.
"The facts surrounding this care are very disturbing," Judge Franks said during the hearing.
The abduction and rape occurred about 18 months after Martin's release from a state prison for convictions in the sexual assault and kidnapping of a 6-year-old Toledo girl in 1988.
The circumstances of the incident were strikingly similar to what happened to the most recent victim: Martin took the girl to a secluded, wooded area and sexually assaulted her.
Martin was classified as a sexual predator - the worst and most dangerous category of sex offenders. As required, he registered his address with the sheriff's office, which sent notifications to the residents on Price Street.
The victim, who is now 5, returned home after she was raped. She finally told her grandmother about the assault on June 12 after she saw the defendant and screamed in fear, causing the grandmother to ask her if Martin had touched her.
"I should have put two and two together. I didn't know he was watching us that closely," the grandmother said. "She was scared to even touch the front gate. I had to put a lock on the gate in the backyard. That will never happen again."
Martin, who is mildly mentally retarded, confessed to police that he took the child and sexually assaulted her.
Martin pleaded guilty to a charge of rape, which carries a maximum 10-year sentence
Lori Olender, a county assistant prosecutor, said the plea agreement to a lesser offense of rape was offered to Martin, in part, to avoid having the victim testify and because of evidentiary issues in the case.
"The victim might not have been found competent to testify at trial. But we didn't want to go through a competency hearing. We didn't want to put the child through that," she said.
"We can't take every one of these cases to trial. Sure, I would have liked to put the guy away for the rest of his life, but we don't have the same evidence in each case."
In 1988, Martin was convicted of gross sexual imposition for fondling a young girl in Seneca County and sent to prison for two years, which was served concurrently with the Lucas County case. He was convicted of gross sexual imposition for fondling a 4-year-old girl in 1983 and was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison.
But within six months of being released from prison, he was convicted of gross sexual imposition for molesting a 5-year-old girl and was sent back to prison for two years in 1985.
Judge Franks said maximum and consecutive sentences were needed to punish Martin, in part, because of his extensive criminal history and because previous incarcerations didn't deter him.
Contact Mark Reiter at: