FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) — A former Florence pastor who admitted to having inappropriate relationships with young boys in a pulpit confession has been sentenced, according to the Lauderdale District Attorney’s Office.
John Thomas Martin pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree sexual abuse on June 23, 2022. He was sentenced to serve 10 years in the Department of Corrections on each count.
“Those sentences were split to serve two years and ran consecutively for a total of 6 years to serve in prison,” said Coty Hand, Lauderdale County Assistant District Attorney. “He will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.”
Less than a week after his 2019 confession, Martin was arrested and taken to the Lauderdale County Detention Center and placed on a $60,000 bond. In all, Hand said Martin admitted to four counts of sexual abuse of a child – those charges involved a victim younger than 16.
News 19 also learned Martin was under investigation for similar allegations in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Martin may have acted inappropriately while serving as a youth pastor at Bellwood Baptist Church in 2004.
Following Martin’s confession, members of the church immediately contacted One Place of the Shoals, a family justice center. The organization launched an investigation right away.
District Judge Carole Medley reclassified the documents of the case as confidential following a request from prosecutors in an effort to protect the identities of the victims. The motion not only made documents unavailable to the general public but also meant that prosecutors and defense attorneys could not discuss the case outside of court.
“The victims in both cases were consulted and approved the settlement involving the outcomes in both cases,” said Hand, “which included the set prison term and the conclusion of both cases.”