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VALPARAISO — A 30-year-old South Haven man was escorted out of court and away from his fellow inmates Tuesday morning after being sentenced to 45 years behind bars for molesting two girls beginning when they were 5 and 6.

Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper called the offenses "serious and heinous" and said Johnathan Martin will have to serve a minimum of 85.7 percent of the sentence because of the high level of the offenses.

Martin, who pleaded guilty to two Level 1 felony counts of child molesting, said before sentencing he was "deeply sorry."

"What I did was horrendous and down right wrong," he said.

The South Haven resident blamed alcohol consumption, in part, for his actions and said they were something he thought he would never do.

The mother of the two victims was in the courtroom for sentencing, but opted not to make a statement. Crying could be heard from that area of the courtroom when Harper announced the sentence.

When Martin was first questioned by police about allegations of molesting the two young girls, he said the girls were mad at him for not allowing them to go trick-or-treating, police had said.

The abuse came to light when one of the girls told a friend at school, who told a teacher, according to police. The girl reportedly said she was afraid to tell her mother.

The girls described numerous sexual acts that Martin carried out on them, police said.

"(One of the girls) said that Johnathan made them put their hands in the middle if they weren't going to tell," according to charging information. "Johnathan told the girls if you don't put your hand in, you can go ahead and tell your mommy but I will lie."

Police said Martin admitted to taking a nude photograph of one of the girls on his cell phone that he later deleted.

Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said while Martin has attempted to say the incidents happened just once, the girls said it happened multiple times over a two-year period.

Polarek sought a 60-year sentence saying there was "severe minimization going on here."

"He continued using these young, young girls for his own satisfaction," Polarek said.

Defense attorney Larry Rogers said his client has no prior criminal record and took responsibility for his actions in this case by pleading guilty.

Martin did not want to put the girls through the rigorous trial, Rogers said.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.