A Logan man charged in a child sex abuse case is sitting in the Utah State Prison while the judge assigned to his case grapples with challenging issues that are not easily addressed by current Utah law.
Jared Martindale, 45, was charged in 1st District Court in April with rape of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child, each first-degree felonies, and two counts of sexual abuse of a child, a second-degree felony.
Evidence in the case was presented at a preliminary hearing in June. The alleged victim in the case testified in court that she was sexually abused by Martindale, a family friend, when she was 8 years old.
Martindale was 14 or 15 years old at the time, and if he had been charged then, he would have been awarded the privilege of privacy and consequences befitting a teenager, said defense attorney Wayne Caldwell.
During oral arguments of Thursday, Caldwell argued that perhaps the district court did not have jurisdiction over what would have been a case in the juvenile court system.
Additionally, the statute of limitations at the time of the alleged offenses was 8 years but today, victims essentially have a lifetime to report sexual assault.
With that, a middle-aged Martindale is facing up to life in prison for crimes allegedly committed against a child when he himself was still a teen, Caldwell said.
As charged, Martindale was facing a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison, and up to life, giving the Judge Brian Cannell no room for judicial discretion.
Utah State Code reduces that minimum sentence to either 6, 10 or 15 years at a minimum because Martindale was under the age of 18 at the time, giving Cannell a little more discretion to take all matters into consideration at sentencing.
During oral arguments, Cache County prosecutor Dane Murray said the juvenile court system maintains jurisdiction over juvenile cases until the defendants reach the age of 21, and after that, it is appropriate for Cannell to hear the case now.
“This is the only venue to bring the charges to,” he said.
According to Murray, the juvenile has the resources to work with juveniles in the wake of crimes committed as juveniles, but those same resources are not applicable to adults, he said.
With that, Cannell felt he could move forward with a bindover, saying there was sufficient evidence presented at the preliminary hearing to bind Martindale over for trial.
Martindale, who was on parole when he was charged in this case, is currently being held at the Utah State Prison while court proceedings take place, so Caldwell asked for the soonest possible trial setting.
His case is currently set for a three-day jury trial beginning Dec. 11.
Discussions regarding “cruel and unusual punishment” are premature at this point and will be reserved for a later date, following a conviction.
That will allow more time for Cannell and each of the attorneys to research the matters at hand and see how other states have dealt with similar circumstances, because at present, there is no direction from Utah legislators to guide them.
“I think it would be helpful for everyone to have a clear route from the legislature,” Murray said. “With the #MeToo movement, more people are coming forward and I think it is something we’re only going to see more of.”
In a similar case also before the 1st District Court, 47-year-old Dustin John Andrew of Pocatello was also recently charged with one count of sodomy on a child, a first-degree offense, and two counts of sexual abuse of a child, a second-degree felony.
According to court records, the alleged acts of abuse occurred over a period of years throughout his teens while he was living in Lewiston.
Andrew’s attorney appeared in 1st District Court on Monday and asked for a continuance in the case as he considers a plea deal that has been extended to him.
While the cases are strikingly similar, Murray said one of the challenges in the Andrews case is some uncertainty in when the alleged actions actually took place.