Pastor John McMartin sentenced

Pastor John McMartin with Pastor Carol McMartin

The long-time lead pastor at the multi-campus Inspire church, John McMartin has been sentenced to an intensive corrections order with 120 hours of community service. A breach of the order could land him in prison with a 16 months sentence hanging over his head.

Pastor John McMartin was found guilty of assault with an act of indecency and common assault in December last year.

The charges relate to an event in 2013 when McMartin invited his 19-year-old personal assistant to his home in Pleasure Point, because he was too drunk to pick up his wife from the airport. The Police evidence before the court was that McMartin put his hands down the young woman’s pants, and squeezed her breasts,  kissing her neck and rubbing her stomach and leg.

A defence submission at an earlier hearing was that Pastor McMartin admitted to giving the complainant an “inappropriate” massage on a night he was meant to pick his wife up from the airport. But he had been drinking too much and “opportunistically” interacted with a young woman he asked over to his house to pick up his wife. But the court did not accept a the defence submission that there was reasonable doubt that “he touched her in the places alleged.”

“After the assault, I felt uncomfortable, ashamed, betrayed,” said a Victim’s Impact Statement read to the Campbelltown Local Court on behalf of the complainant. “I was told everything was okay because he did not rape me.

“I held on to this narrative without realising the difficulties it would cause over the next few years.

“My mental health crumbled. I ultimately lost my passion for living…

“After the assault, I lost my passion for working, the church, my life.”

“After the assault, I felt my identity was taken away.”

The complainant described how she was “forced to continue life as though nothing had happened.”

She described dark times, including suicidal thoughts. But “when I committed to therapy in 2018 I was able to face the truth. The assault was wrong. It was a big deal. Through therapy, I was able to begin the journey to healing.” She thanked the magistrate for hearing her.

In sentencing, the age difference between the complainant and McMartin, 19 years old and 58 years, and the abuse of trust because of his position as pastor of the church that was the centre of her and her family’s life were taken into account.

Referring to a defence submission, Magistrate Peter Thompson noted that in terms of “extra-curial punishment” (publicity). “I can only take a personal blog into account to a limited extent,” a likely reference to The Other Cheek.

McMaster’s demenour changed noticebly in court during the hearing. Looking tense and worried, he relaxed when the magistrate questioned the police about whther their submissions ruled out an Intensive Corrections Order – the alternative to prison. When the hearing finished a smile crossed his face as he left the courtroom.

The sentencing hearing completed a series of humiliating court appearances for MacMartin, a former NSW state president of the Australian Christian Churches denomination. He had been the lead pastor of Inspire Church for decades, regarded as the complainant noted in her Victim’s Impact Statement as “annointed by God and almost worshipped.”

In a devastating afternoon, during the week before his guilty verdict was delivered, John McMartin’s evidence at the Brian Houston trial was shown to be false.

In that trial, of Brian Houston on a charge of concealing his father Frank Houston’s sexual abuse lof a child, McMartin had denied receiving letters from another witness, Pastor Barbara Taylor. Taylors letters receiving were found at McMartin’s church after an urgent subpoena was granted.

The letters incident undermined McMartin’s credibility at the Brian Houston trial, giving weight to Barbara Taylor’s timeline that Houston only became aware of his father Frank Houston’s pedophilia in 1999.

Other testimony in the Houston trial showed that Mc Martin’s Inspire Church had been planted by Brian Houston who then invited McMartin, a Bible College classmate of Houston’s to come from New Zealand and take on the church.