EFFINGHAM — A judge on Tuesday sentenced the husband of a former Effingham day care operator to life in prison without possibility of parole for sexually assaulting four boys under the age of 5.

Prior to the sentence imposed by Judge Allan Lolie, parents described Martin D. Hubbard as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” whose actions have left them and their children unable to trust and with “layers of trauma.”

A jury convicted Hubbard in July on eight counts of predatory sexual assault – two counts for each boy – at Mother Hubbard’s Daycare & Preschool, owned by his wife, Maria Hubbard.

Each count is a Class X felony and carries a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison. Since Hubbard has been found guilty of assaulting more than one child, he was already facing a mandatory life sentence.

Before sentencing, parents described how Hubbard’s actions have impacted them emotionally and financially because parents were forced to take time off of work to find a new day care for their child.

The Effingham Daily News is not naming the parents because that could identify their children.

One mother explained how difficult it was to lose so much income and another mother said it was incredibly difficult to trust another caregiver with her boys.

“I have missed hundreds of hours,” one mother said about her ability to work during the entire ordeal.

“They had to peel our boys off of me when I first dropped them off,” another mother said of having to trust a new child care provider, which took her five months to find.

Each parent described how Hubbard completely shattered their trust in him after some of the families involved had known him well for more than 10 years. They explained that this deceit has permanently damaged their ability and their children’s abilities to trust anyone, particularly adults.

“You fooled so many people for so many years,” said one mother. “We put so much trust in you.”

“Any sign of love, I question,” said another mother.

Parents also directed some of their statements toward Hubbard’s entire family – mostly Maria Hubbard, who allowed him to spend time alone with the children at her day care on a daily basis.

One victim’s mother accused Hubbard’s family of “bad mouthing” them and trying to discredit them and their children ever since they came forward with the accusations.

“If Maria knew, she’s just as guilty,” a mother of one of the victims said.

A couple of parents expressed how shocked and concerned they were when Hubbard was first accused of assaulting children.

“We had genuine concern for your well-being,” one parent said. “This is why it hurt so much.”

Parents held very little back in their statements, especially when describing the impact of what Martin Hubbard did. Additionally, parents said no amount of justice will remove the emotional scarring he inflicted, which has left families with anxiety, depression and other symptoms of trauma.

“You, Martin, are the devil here on earth,” one mother said. “Because of you, they are scared of the dark.”

The victims’ parents stated how nothing can be done to bring back their children’s innocence or take away the pain they now experience.

“I have a 4-year-old son who says the earth would be better if he weren’t on it,” one father said.

“We didn’t win. There are no winners here,” one mother said. “His little heart is completely broken.”

Parents and others related to the victims hugged outside of the courtroom, many of them smiling after Lolie handed down the sentence.

Lolie said Hubbard will receive more than 200 days of credit for time already served, but explained that won’t change the fact that he’ll spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

Nick Taylor can be reached at nick.taylor@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at 618-510-9226 or 217-347-7151 ext. 300132.

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