How Could You? Hall of Shame-Joshua T. Martin UPDATED

By on 9-28-2012 in Abuse in foster care, Belle Roeting, How could you? Hall of Shame, Joshua Martin, Lancaster County Children and Youth, Pennsylvania

How Could You? Hall of Shame-Joshua T. Martin UPDATED

This will be an archive of heinous actions by those involved in child welfare, foster care and adoption. We forewarn you that these are deeply disturbing stories that may involve sex abuse, murder, kidnapping and other horrendous actions.

From Reinholds, Pennsylvania, foster parent Joshua T.  Martin, 23, was arrested for “seriously beating his own three-year-old foster child [Bella on September 21, 2012].

In court papers the suspect and foster parent of this child told police that the girl “annoyed” him so he physically abused her to the point where she has severe brain damage. ”

“According to court papers, he admitted to police that he punched the girl’s head and hit her head against a door frame after she threw up her dinner and was being “uncooperative.”
During the beating she sustained “severe brain damage”. She has other injuries, as well, that doctors said were consistent with child abuse.
She’s at the Hershey Medical Center being evaluated. Martin was booked in the Lancaster County Prison and faces multiple charges.
Martin’s wife [Maria] has not been charged.  He said he acted alone. The couple has two other foster children ages one and two.”

Man arrested for severely beating his three-year-old foster child

[WHPTV 9/27/12 by Chris Papst]

He is being held on ” $500,000 cash bail.”

“Martin later told a state police trooper that he had become frustrated with the girl Friday after she threw up her dinner. He said he was rough with the child as he showered and changed her and his roughness would have left bruising on her body, documents state.

He said he also struck the girl’s head on a wooden door frame while carrying her to her bedroom, and then punched her in the head with a closed fist using a good deal of force because she was uncooperative while he roughly dressed her, police said in the documents.

Martin said the girl threw up her dinner again on Sunday and somehow fell as he was helping her, according to documents. He said she fell to the ground and became unresponsive while he was roughly re-dressing her.”

Reinholds man jailed for abuse of foster child, 3

[ABC 27 9/27/12 by Miles Snyder]

“Martin is charged with  aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children.

Court papers show the  3-year-old was treated at Reading Hospital on Sunday for suspected physical and  sexual abuse.”

Bella’s mother states in the video that if Bella’s condition does not improve  soon that she will have to “pull the plug.”

The video states that Bella and her two siblings had only been with the Martins for one month. Lancaster County Children and Youth Social Service Agency  was the foster care agency. They were “agency of the year” in 2007 and still brag about that on their home page.

“The two other children have been moved to a new foster home.”

“The county Children and  Youth Agency said it will do its own internal investigation of this case in  tandem with one by the state Department of Public Welfare.

State police said  additional charges are pending.”

Man accused of punching 3-year-old girl, banging her head
[WGAL 9/28/12]

REFORM Puzzle Piece

 Maybe a 23-year-old shouldn’t be fostering THREE children aged 3 and under, ya think?Where was the wife? Did she not notice any injury?”Exhaustive screening” of this guy? I think not.

Update: In the world’s quickest (non)investigation, Lancaster County Human Services has already concluded that they need not make any changes to their foster care placement practices. Yes, just keep putting 3 toddlers with barely legal foster parents. Way to go!

This new article reveals that the Martins had been foster parents for two years (since they were 21!)

“Belle is on life support  at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Lancaster County Human  Service Director Jim Laughman talked about the foster family on Tuesday.

“Everything came back  crystal clear on the family. They had great references, everybody spoke very  positively about them,” Laughman said.

The county said it puts  potential parents through state and federal background checks, does  orientations, trainings, interviews and monthly home visits.

“There was no indication  that there was any problem,” Laughman said.”

“”The reality may be we may never find a reason why. Sometimes people make bad  choices and they snap,” Laughman said” [Is this guy for real?]

“Laughman said this is a very rare case and that 99.9 percent of foster parents  are excellent caregivers.” [Then how come just being in  foster care or adopted is the #5 risk for child abuse?]

No foster care changes planned after girl abused

[WGAL 10/3/12]

Update 2: York Daily Record reveals the child’s full name as Belle’ Roeting.

“Joey Melton stood in front of a crowd of people Saturday night and thanked them for caring about his daughter.

Three-year-old Belle’ Roeting of Lancaster County was allegedly abused while in the care of her foster father two weeks ago, according to police. She is in Hershey Medical Center recovering from her injuries.

Joshua Martin, 23, is being held in Lancaster County Prison, charged with the girl’s abuse, according to Lancaster Newspapers.

The girl’s biological father, Melton, who grew up in Wrightsville, is staying at Hershey’s Ronald McDonald House so he can watch Belle’s recovery.

As a group of about 150 people gathered at Samuel S. Lewis State Park Saturday night, Melton was only able to share a few words.

“I’m just so hurt right now,” he said to the crowd.

Belle’s paternal grandmother, Melanie Budiarto, said she wanted to have the event to bring awareness of child abuse around the world.

In the weeks since Belle’ was hospitalized, support from the community has flooded the Facebook page “Prayers for Belle.'” By Saturday evening, there were more than 5,500 “likes” on the page.

Relatives from Colorado, Canada, Texas and other areas posted their support and offered up prayers.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, many of them lit candles, even if they couldn’t all be in the same place.

A battery-operated candle was even placed in Belle’s room at the hospital, Budiarto said.

“I’m ragged,” Budiarto said. “You hear about abuse and how horrible it is, but when it hits home — you just can’t imagine the pain.”

The little girl has slowly been improving, her family said.

She opens her eyes. She’s started moving her arms again, grabbing at the breathing tube that keeps her lungs moving while she recovers.

She looks like she wants to scream, Budiarto said.

“We just hope she keeps improving,” she said. “We hope things keep moving forward and soon she can be the little girl we remember.”

How to help

To help the family pay for gas, phone minutes and other needs during this time, visit”

York County family members hold vigil for 3-year-old girl recovering from alleged abuse

[York Daily Record 10/6/12 by Rebecca LeFever]

Update 3: “According to the prosecutor in this case, the three-year-old foster child that Joshua Martin is accused of beating is doing better and will live. But she was beaten so badly that she will have to learn how to walk, talk, and eat all over again.
“Mr. Martin, do you have anything you want to say to your family or to your wife?” questioned CBS 21.
Joshua Martin was did not respond as he left a courtroom in New Holland after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing.
Last month, the Lancaster County man was arrested for seriously beating his own three-year-old foster child and giving her severe brain damage.  In court papers, the 23-year-old told police that the girl “annoyed” him so he punched her head and hit her head against a door frame after she threw up her dinner and was being “uncooperative.”
He admitted to police that he did do it, but said his wife, with whom he had two other foster children, was not involved.
“Her injuries are catastrophic,” explained Lancaster County Assistant District Attorney Randy Miller.  “I don’t know how else to describe it.  It’s very sad, obviously for [her] and the community.  We’ll try to go on from here.”
“He definitely had concern for the child and does have concern for the child.  And sometimes bad things happen,” stated Martin’s attorney, Jeffrey Conrad.  “Why those things happen, we may never know.  But one can feel still very upset about that and he feels that and he wants to see a full recovery for the child.”
Martin will be in court again on November 28 for a formal arraignment.  He will remain in Lancaster County Prison on $500,000 bail.
The three-year-old is still at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.  ”

Man accused of nearly beating his foster child to death waives hearing

[WHPV 10/23/12 by Chris Papst]

Update 4: “A Lancaster County judge described the horrific injuries inflicted during a beating last year as a “life sentence” for 4-year-old Belle Roeting.

However, Joshua Martin, the foster father accused of punching the child, doesn’t deserve to be “warehoused” in prison for the rest of his life, the judge said Friday.

“There is no good resolution here,” Judge David Ashworth said while ordering Martin to serve 5 1/2 to 20 years in state prison. “The only appropriate remedy is beyond the means of this court.”

“It is my sincere hope that Belle will miraculously recover from this. It will require a miracle.”

Earlier in the hearing, Martin, 24, bowed his head and cried as a prosecutor described the many permanent injuries inflicted during the September beating in Reinholds, when Belle was 3 years old.

“There will be no prom,” Assistant District Attorney Randall L. Miller told the judge. “No first Communion, no marriage, no motherhood.

“That’s all gone now.”

Belle sustained a traumatic brain injury that blinded her and has left her in a wheelchair, dependent upon others to care for her, Miller said.

Martin read aloud a message to his former foster daughter, who lived with him and his wife for 90 days before the beating.

“To my dear Belle,” Martin began, as he and his many supporters wept. “I’m very sorry, dear child. You were placed in my care and I failed you. I will forever hold myself accountable to you. I pray for you every day, that you will go on to live a long, happy life.”

Martin told Ashworth he was experiencing stress because there were three young children in his home when he struck Belle, whom he said had misbehaved at dinner.

“I confess to you that for a short time period I became frustrated with Belle and handled her recklessly,” he told the judge. “I’m admitting clearly to you my guilt. I’m asking you to forgive me.”

Among the approximately 40 spectators were Martin’s family, as well as representatives of Lancaster County Children & Youth, who placed Belle with the Martins.

Several of Martin’s relatives asked the judge for mercy.

“Joshua’s caring and kind heart has always shown,” his father, Earl Martin said, while holding his wife.

Said defense attorney Jeffrey Conrad: “The action here is so incredibly out of character with the rest of this man’s life. When he was at his weakest moment, he failed and struck a child.”

Miller countered that the beating itself wasn’t the only crime committed; Martin failed to summon help for the child for two full days.

Immediate medical attention would have limited the damage, Miller said.

Instead, Belle now takes 13 different types of medication every day, can’t swallow food and can’t speak, the prosecutor said.

Doctors at Reading Hospital and Hershey Medical Center literally saved the girl’s life.

“She was given her Last Rites. She was going to die,” Miller said. “We were preparing [charges] for criminal homicide.”

Ashworth called the crime inexcusable.

“This was a precious little girl and you took that away from her,” he told Martin. “You can’t take back what you’ve done. What you should have done, you did not do.”

Martin also was ordered to pay more than $118,000 in medical costs, which will continue to accumulate. Conrad said Martin and his wife, Marla, have a check for $45,000, which they will file immediately with the court.

“That’s everything these two have,” Conrad said, noting the couple sold their house to raise the money.

Marla Martin sat silently during the hourlong hearing, and walked out of the courtroom without saying a word.”

Foster father jailed for beating girl, 3 in Reinholds home

[Lancaster Online 5/24/13 by Brett Hambright]


  1. I foster parented through LCCYA for 5 years. I was accused of abusing children and I didn’t!!! I actually adopted 2 of My children through them.
    But Here You have a YOUNG couple actually abusing these kids and they weren’t caught until this happens???!!!
    I stopped foster parenting because of things like this!
    Makes Me very upset to hear things like this.
    I will be praying for the 3 year old little girl and her family.

    • How awful! We see the foster care system erring on both ends of the scale-not really checking people like this Joshua and alienating people who are doing their best for the kids, like yourself.The whole thing is a mess.

  2. The answer is not found in verbally beating the alleged abuser, but in EDUCATING foster families who too often take in these children unprepared. Fostering, especially taking in children older than newborn, is not for the inexperienced, childless couple longing for sweet li’l children. Social workers need to prepare the parents. They need to tell parents the bad side of fostering, not to scare them off but so they know where to go for help.They don’t much. I know, because I’ve been there. I never before posted internet comments because they tend to be gossip or a feelings-vent. My intent for this post is neither, but rather to be informative. Have you noticed most news article comments take the side of this “poor little girl?” Who is willing to step aside from that and be mature and kind-hearted enough to consider the side of the “poor foster father?” Has anyone considered the possibility that the child was likely kicking, screaming, and thrashing around when her head got banged, and that the blow of his hand on her head could have been an exaggerated, frantic attempt to keep the child from faIling, while he was trying to carry her high-motion body to her room? And has anyone been the subject of newsmedia enough to know how distorted it can be? I don’t know Mr. Martin or his family. But I do know what it’s like to take in one of these “sweet little girls”–who is sweet at first, and remains sweet for strangers–only to have her turn into a raging wild cat who tears out the hearts of her parents, leaving them sobbing and exhausted, accused, friendless and betrayed…yes, even if they are not beating or otherwise abusing the child. My sweet little girl, along with this one, is the victim of a sad disorder called attachment disorder. Foster parents need to be educated of the symptoms and what to do. They need to know there is help so that they do not suffer alone. They need to be told that it is not their fault if they cannot handle the child (as the general public will accuse them, and the general public has NO IDEA how these children can act.) If the parents can grasp the fact that this child has a real disorder for which there are resources, they can calm down and ask for help… IF it is safe for them to do so. If they are accused and verbally beaten when they admit their need, they suffer in silence until the state of both child and parents deteriorates to the point of peaceable existence being impossible, and the likelihood of the child being abused by the distraught, sleep-deprived, burnt-out parents increases. I’m not saying the abuse (which is alleged, remember) is excusable. I’m saying it is understandable, in the circumstances. I used to wonder, too, how anyone could abuse an innocent child; I don’t wonder anymore, because I’ve been tempted to such extreme, taken closer to the edge than I ever knew a Christian, right-thinking, right-living human being could ever be taken. You don’t know what you are capable of doing until you are tried to the max every day, day in and day out, by a child whom everyone else falls in love with and says is so sweet…a child who rejects love and affection with a violent passion, because their early years have taught them, “Love hurts.” There will always be the skeptical who do not believe in the existence of this disorder. They look at the pictures of sweet little Belle and refuse to believe that a child so sweet with strangers could be such a little devil at home, except that it would be the parents’ fault. Their emotions will insist that the abuse is outrageously unacceptable and the man deserves a death sentence. Let such people rise up, be better persons than what they accuse Mr. Martin of being, and take in a child with the diagnosis of attachment disorder, and they may have their eyes opened. By the grace of God, we were pointed to help for our daughter. Six years of therapy, experience, and intense parent-training has equipped us to manage her behavior and she has improved dramatically. Attachment disorder is caused by neglect or abuse in infancy to age two, OR one or more separations from a primary caregiver at this age. This makes Belle, and most foster children, prime candidates for attachment disorder. Due to the decline of solid homes and family values, America is full of such children. God help us!

    • A Heart for children, while I agree that children from institutions and foster care are at risk for attachment disorder and all foster and adoptive parents need to have substantial training to recognize it and deal with it, please, please do not make an assumption in *this* case that this child had attachment disorder.We agree with education and homestudy and those are two points of our reform. BUT in this case,one allegation is SEXUAL abuse of this child. That is not an “understandable” response to anything. Banging a child’s head on the door frame for which he *admits*-also not in the realm of understandable and not understanding basic knowledge that head injury and vomiting are related is ALSO not in the realm of understandable. It is medical neglect.

      Head injury and drowning are the top killers of kids in this category. I don’t think these are part of the PAP/foster care education at all or enough either. If the foster care system can’t figure out how to weed out bad people or train people to recognize when they need to ask for help then leave the kids with the original parents. Replacing home-grown incompetence with state-run incompetence solves nothing for these kids.

      Almost 3 in 4 children are now in foster care due to neglect not abuse with a growing number related to the parent’s drug use.

      • Neglect is worse than abuse as far as causing attachment disorder.

        • And what does that have to do with a foster parent abusing a child? The problem I have with your comments is that you are trying to excuse the behavior of the foster parent by citing a possible and unfounded condition in the child.You are the one that started this exchange by saying NOT to focus on the alleged abuser. We feel MANY things need to be focused on simultaneously but NEVER to excuse abusive behavior on the part of the adoptive or foster parent.

          Now a few serious questions for you: what IS or SHOULD BE attachment of a foster child because I don’t think I can define “normal.” Is it really normal for a child to want to attach to a temporary foster carer? If most kids are there for neglect and most cases are not severe neglect, then wouldn’t it be normal to still want to be attached and/or loyal to your bio parent? Grief and fear can look like an “attachment disorder.” I get tired of the knee-jerk reaction that every kid has attachment disorder.

          • While abuse should not be ignored, Ialso feel that anyone can snap under extreme stress, without a developed dependence on God through Jesus. My concerns are also about organized agencies removing children from their birth parents for reasons of neglect. If such is the case, shouldn’t the real parents, relatives, and friends be helped to improve the condition, rather than a stranger removing the child and placing it into a strange setting. Except in rare cases, government agencies should not over-rule the God-given community.

          • Benjamin, I agree with your last 3 statements about the community that knows the children should be called upon first. In fact, we made this case in the first week of this blog in January 2011 when Reformatina did an excellent review of what is called Extreme Recruitment-recruiting alternative caregivers that are in the community of the child. See

            But the first statement, I have to strongly disagree with on 2 counts. “Anyone” cannot just snap. That really is an enabling excuse for bad behavior. Secondly, Jesus is not necessary to prevent people from snapping. Understanding one’s limitations and setting aside one’s pride to ask for assistance can prevent someone from snapping. Having others followup with you and offer help (like social workers are supposed to do in foster care) also can prevent a child from being abused. Belief in Jesus should not be entwined with the topics of sanity, ethics, humility and caring–the latter four characteristics are required to be a good foster parent and the former one is not.

      • Also, let’s remember the little girl was in their care just ONE MONTH. I am reminded here of the case of adoptee Kairissa Mark, who was home from China with her adoptive parents just three months before she was killed by her mother through similar forms of abuse.

        One month and the foster dad is driven to beat a 3-year-old into unconsciousness? One month? That’s all the time frame needed for him to “lose it”?

        • Name, great point about the length of time in the foster dad’s care. And that makes the “attachment” excuse from A Heart for Children even less applicable. A 3 year old throwing up is very common and should be expected. Any sane person who saw a 3 year old throw up over the course of a weekend should have concluded that the child was ill (or this child had already been beaten and was throwing up due to head injury). There is no excuse for a child throwing up to illicit rage and beating.

    • There isn’t a nickle of difference between RAD and PDD except one is caused by a bad experience at birth and the other is genetic. Your post REALLY scares me. You seem to know what you are talking about, and that scares me more. You didn’t say but I bet a month’s income that you did NOT give birth to the child you describe and I also bet you are abusing her and blaming RAD. If you can not handle the child with love all the time, give her back. If the child is an angle in front of all others and a hellion with you, then YOU ARE the problem. You said Martin is an alleged abuser, fair enough – but the damage done to the child is not alleged. Open your eyes and don’t try to defend yourself. You and Martin seem to have too much in common for my taste.

  3. There is NO JUSTIFICATION for what the foster father did. Those who think he just snapped is as horrible as he is. There is something horribly wrong with someone making a fist and striking a 3 year old. Do some people not know how SMALL a 3 year old is? I don’t care if the child pooped and threw up all over me. My daughter has screamed, kicked at me and it never occured to me to make close fit and punch her. And he punched her to the point of brain damage. Those that defend him are SICK! Plain and simple!