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Nahant man pleads guilty to raping, abusing stepdaughter

Michael Marston of Nahant pleads guilty to 15 charges, including child rape and human trafficking, during his hearing at Essex County Superior Court in Salem on Wednesday. (Spenser Hasak)

SALEM — Michael Marston pleaded guilty in Essex Superior Court Wednesday afternoon to repeatedly raping his stepdaughter over a five-year period in their Nahant home, abuse that started when the girl was just 13 years old.

Marston, 45, pleaded guilty to eight counts of child rape, four counts of rape, two counts of indecent assault and battery and one count of human trafficking. Following the plea, Associate Judge Tom Drexler sentenced Marston to six to eight years in state prison, followed by five years of probation that will include GPS monitoring.

The maximum sentencing for the counts of child rape and child rape with force was life in prison. The rape charges carried a maximum sentence of 20 years.

“I don’t know if there is ever a perfect sentence,” said Essex Assistant District Attorney Maria Markos, adding that the victim agreed with the sentence recommendation.

Markos said Marston started sexually abusing his stepdaughter (The Item does not name victims of sexual assault) in 2014 when she was 13. The abuse continued for five years, Markos said, and was discovered during a counseling session. It was there that the victim described the abuse, saying that it made her feel like a prostitute at times and led her to cut herself and drop out of school. During that time period, Markos said the victim began to feel intimidated and threatened by Marston, who also hit her at home.

Despite the sexual abuse and physical violence the victim endured at the hands of Marston — who was arrested in July 2019 for the crimes — the victim said she still views him as a father figure. The victim has since started a job and is back in school.

Prior to the sentencing, Meredith Reeves, the attorney who represented Marston, said her client has taken responsibility for his crimes and expressed his remorse for the acts he has committed.

Marston will be required to register as a sex offender and as of Wednesday, he is prohibited from having any contact with the victim.

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