ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - The man who prosecutors identified as a church minister remained on the run Thursday afternoon after his rape conviction, as the church issued a statement denying the man had ever been a minister there.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office posted a lookout for Don Martin Tuesday after a jury convicted him of raping a 13-year-old.
The jury convicted Martin, 45, of rape, aggravated sexual battery, child molestation, and cruelty to children in the first degree.
According to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, church members told investigators Martin was a minister at the Cathedral of Faith Church of God in Christ in southwest Atlanta and met the girl’s caretaker through the church.
But on Thursday, the church sent a statement to FOX 5, claiming Martin was never an ordained minister serving in an official capacity, and never worked with youth or children.
According to the church statement, “Don Martin attended worship services at Cathedral of Faith for many years and in that time, he did not lead – nor was he involved in – any programming involving children or youth. According to church records, Martin has not been a regular attendee of worship services and/or a participant in church events since 2009. He also has not been a credentialed minister within the Church of God in Christ for over ten years, nor was he ever ordained by the national organization. Additionally, for one to become ordained the following steps must be completed: a. successful completion of the required ordination curriculum and examinations must be satisfied. b. a criminal background screening must be successfully passed c. the sexual harassment and misconduct awareness certification must be obtained.”
Howard told FOX 5 the charges stem from on-going abuse of a young girl for six years from 2005 until 2011 when the girl turned 13. Prosecutors said Martin molested the girl more than 30 times in that period, even sexually assaulting her on her 12th birthday.
Prosecutors said Martin would stay over at the girl's house overnight; the abuse occurred there, as well as several other locations in the Oakland City neighborhood in Southwest Atlanta, as well as College Park.
In 2011, Atlanta Police were called to a home on Larosa Terrace to interview the teenage victim, who described the abuse to officers. The case was initially closed in 2011 when the victim did not show at a forensic interview and Martin provided an alibi to investigators.
Police reopened the case in 2014 after the legal guardian contacted police again.
Martin was arrested in 2014 on a $15,000 bond and initially was required to wear an ankle monitor following his arrest; he was indicted in 2015, but two years later, a judge removed that condition.
Prosecutors said Martin failed to appear Monday and Tuesday in court. Closing arguments continued without him and the jury found him guilty.
The judge postponed sentencing until his capture because the victim would like to face Martin during the sentencing hearing.
Authorities said Martin is originally from the Bahamas.
Investigators do not have information on where he could be hiding out. They ask anyone with information on his whereabouts or who sees him to call 911.
In their statement, the church added, “Our prayers and support are with the victim and their family. The safety and security of all – especially children and youth – who attend worship services and events at Cathedral of Faith Church are of the utmost importance to the ministry. Cathedral of Faith Church leaders and members respect the privacy of the victim and will continue to pray for the entire family. Despite this unfortunate event, the church remains committed to doing all that it can to make the community stronger and safer for families to grow and thrive in.”