5 men, 1 woman accused in sexual assault of girl

Girl, 12, repeatedly abused, officials say

Updated at

12:25 P.M.

A state district court judge on Friday increased the bail amounts set for two Port Allen men in light of new counts related to the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl, according to court records released by the 18th Judicial District Court.

The bail for Clarence Tillman, 60, one of six people arrested in the case, was bumped up from $10,000 to $300,000 after the counts against him were upgraded to principal to aggravated rape.

District Judge Robin Free increased the bail set for Tillman, 358 Tracey Porter St., Port Allen, after the court received new information late Thursday night about his alleged role in the victim’s sexual assault.

Free also increased bail for Brandon Edwards, 26, of the same address in Port Allen as Tillman. His bail was raised from $50,000 to $125,000 after authorities added an additional count of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.

The pair are among six people accused in the repeated sexual abuse of the girl. Law enforcement officials said they expect that list to grow further as the investigation continues and the full extent of the girl’s exploitation becomes clear.

“It’s a shocking and heinous crime, but we’re confident that we have the right people involved,” East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said. “Rape is a horrible crime, but even more so when it’s a child.”

He was booked into the parish jail on Tuesday on two counts of oral sexual battery.

Ivy E. Martin, a Port Allen sex offender, remained at the center of the investigation, accused of raping the girl repeatedly and arranging sexual encounters between the girl and several other adults. Exactly when the rapes began remained a moving target, with court records outlining sexual acts dating back to the spring.

Martin, 38, 884 N. 11th St. told investigators he was “sick and needed help,” but has denied claims he raped the girl on a weekly basis beginning in September, according to court records. The mother of the girl, who, according to authorities, refused to cooperate at first, has not been booked in the case.

“Our ultimate goal is to bring all of those involved to justice,” Gautreaux said. “It’s an open and continuing investigation.”

Aggravated rape warrants were issued Thursday for Edwards and Jessica D. Carr.

Edwards was booked earlier in the week in West Baton Rouge Parish on two counts of oral sexual battery, accused of having oral sex with the girl in April and May at his home in Port Allen. He’s also accused of performing oral sex on the girl in June in East Baton Rouge Parish and standing as a “look out” as Martin raped the girl.

Carr, 22, 21324 Orme St., Abita Springs, is accused of performing oral sex on the girl in September while Martin masturbated. She remained at large late Thursday evening.

Port Allen police had arrested Tillman earlier this week on counts of principal to rape and oral sexual battery. Tillman is accused of watching as Martin had sex with the victim and Edwards had oral sex with her.

Previously booked with aggravated rape were Arthur Lee Jones, 55, 4607 Chapeau Dr., Baker, and Michael Jerrold Sherbin, 35, 1714 Cedar Lake Dr., Baton Rouge. Sherbin has admitted having sex with the girl, but claimed he immediately stopped “because he knew it was wrong,” according to an affidavit.

The investigation began last month after a relative told authorities she believed the girl was being forced to have sex with Martin and was possibly pregnant. It was a familiar allegation for Martin, who in 1999 pleaded guilty in West Baton Rouge Parish to a reduced charge of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile amid claims he had impregnated a juvenile family member.

In the current case, the mother of the 12-year-old told investigators she took her daughter to the hospital for treatment after the girl revealed Martin was having sex with her. An affidavit says the mother, whom authorities have declined to identify, “delayed in contacting law enforcement because the victim changed her statement several times and she began to doubt the victim.”

The girl was interviewed last week at the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center, and is expected to return there this weekend to begin receiving therapy.

“It was through our advocacy that law enforcement found out about the other suspects,” said Sharon Pol, the center’s executive director.

“Unless these children receive help, they can become a society and community problem in that they are those acting out because of the trauma that affected them at an early age,” Pol added. “Our therapists say that child abuse is the ‘invisible thread’ that runs through the troubled lives of adults.”

Authorities have said Martin warned the girl she would be “made a fool of and no one would believe her” if she reported the sexual assaults.

Racheal Hebert, executive director of the Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response Center in Baton Rouge, said sexually abused children can feel confused and ashamed and fear retaliation.

“It is very inspiring to me that this young girl has come forward and is willing to talk about what happened,” Hebert said. “However, now we, as a community, need to be supportive of this child and make ourselves more aware of this terrible abuse that is happening to many more young girls and boys right here in our neighborhoods.”

Court records show Martin has at least three prior convictions. He was sentenced to a year in prison for the contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile charge and two years in 2007 after failing to register as a sex offender.