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Advance man, 78, going to prison for sex offense with child

An Advance man will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars after he was convicted in Davie Superior Court last month for statutory sex offenses with a child under the age of 13.

Robert Owen Martz, 78, of River Road, was arrested in 2020 and charged with six counts of statutory sex offense with a child under age 13 and seven counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, all stemming from incidents that occurred in 2019.

Assistant DA Rob Taylor told Judge Mark Klass that Martz began to abuse the child when she was around 9 years old. When Martz was interviewed, he told Taylor that he felt as if the two had a relationship, an “emotional connection, not just a physical connection. He loved her.”

Martz also told Taylor he would often have to remind himself the girl was only 9, that he would ‘never do anything to hurt her,’ and that he doesn’t ‘want her to be traumatized by what happened or to think closeness is evil.’

Investigators found a search history revolving around child pornography on Martz’s phone but no video or photos of the victim. He had no prior criminal history.

During the plea, Martz said nothing and appeared stoic, Taylor said, but the child’s grandmother addressed Martz and angrily expressed her feelings toward him for several minutes.

On two counts of statutory sex offense with a child under age 13, Martz was sentenced to 15 to 23 years in prison, with credit for the 410 days he spent in jail awaiting trial. He is to undergo a mental health evaluation, register as a sex offender for 30 years and enroll in the sex offender control program.

He was ordered to have no contact with the child for the rest of her life and to pay his attorney, Cindy Ellis, $2,660.50.

The remainder of the charges were dismissed as part of a plea arrangement.