Saturday, May 13, 2006

The penalty for sexually assaulting 18 children-- one month in prison, three years of probation.

On April third, I put up a post entitled, The perks of being the son of the senate president about the sweetheart deal that Yavapai County prosecutors cut with Clifton Bennett, the son of state Senate President Ken Bennett, and a co-defendant, dropping all but one of thirty-six counts of assault (already watered down from sexual assault-- as I discussed in the post last month) against Bennett for sodomizing eighteen boys aged 11-14 with broomsticks and flashlights at a 'leadership' camp for gifted students. In that post, I pointed out that what Bennett and Kyle Wheeler, counselors at the camp did, is the same crime that former New York police officer Justin Volpe was sentenced in 1999 to thirty years in prison for doing to Abner Louima.

Well, today, the rest of raw justice was served. Even that one count was knocked down to a misdemeanor which could even be erased (pending completion of the sentence) by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Thomas O'Toole (I gather the case was moved to Maricopa County due to the publicity that surrounded the case in Yavapai County.) Bennett will serve thirty days in prison and Wheeler 45, plus two hundred hours each of community service, and three years of probation.

Does this sound like a misdemeanor to you? (quoted verbatim from today's print issue of the Arizona Republic:

Several of the 18 victims left the courtroom, angry and frustrated. Since the assaults, many have had trouble sleeping and going to the bathroom, their parents say. Their grades have slipped, and many are undergoing counseling.

Keep in mind that these victims were children. WHO THE HECK SODOMIZES A CHILD WITH A BROOMSTICK?!! I mean, someone was really sick just to think that one up. AND WHO THE BLOODY HECK LETS THE PERPETRATORS OFF EASY like this? As justification, it was pointed out that these boys were sodomized through their underwear or nightclothes. That is supposed to be a defense?

And here is the really scary part of it: knocking it down to a misdemeanor means that they may even get to work with kids again:

(keeping the crimes as felonies) would have prohibited Wheeler and Bennett from getting jobs that put them in contact with children. But now, they can get those jobs. And we wonder why child molesters keep popping up in our schools.

Oh, and Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk insists that the reason they got the deal they got in the first place was not related to the fact that Clifton Bennett's father is one of the most politically powerful men in Arizona.

Yeah, right. If you or I sodomized eighteen children with broomsticks, we'd be getting a sentence more like the one Justin Volpe got (which we should get, if we did what they did.) So this unbelievably good deal has nothing to do with Ken Bennett... Uh, huh, and if you believe that then I can get you a great deal on a house in New Orleans (or maybe some prime wooded land near Overgaard).

There is one other way that the families are seeking justice. According to today's article, eleven of the victims have hired lawyers, and six have already filed lawuits against Bennett, his father (who is a multimillion dollar oilman who just happens to run half of the legislature in his spare time) and the operators of the camp.

Now, I'm not usually a fan of lawsuits. The only time I've ever hired a lawyer to sue anybody was after I was run into by another driver, and after several weeks of being jerked around while trying to deal directly with the other driver's insurance company, which kept transferring the case file to another, then another, then another person, I said the heck with it and called an attorney, who did in fact handle that situation to my satisfaction.

That said, this case is exactly why those who push for tort "reform" are wrong to do so. In a case like this, the only way justice is likely to be served is through the civil courts. Take that away, and these guys really do get 'in like Flynn' and can walk away scott free from eighteen cases of sexual assault with only a misdemeanor and thirty days in jail. Other than through the civil suits though, justice has most decidedly not been served in this case.

Meanwhile, somewhere in a small prison cell in New York, another day went by just like yesterday went by, and just like tomorrow will go by. Justin Volpe is counting down to the day later this year when he will be able to mark only twenty three years left on his sentence. Too bad for him, he wasn't related to anybody rich enough or powerful enough to get him a 'deal.'


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I herd none of the victims had their pants off. Can anyone tell me that there was any kind of insertion ??

Anonymous said...

I think if none of the victims had their pants off it would still be bad but not sodimy and would not be equal to what happen in N.Y.

Eli Blake said...

As I mentioned in the post, they had on underwear and nightclothes (most of these happened at night). And that doesn't cause it to not be sodomy or sexual assault any more than a rapist not taking off a woman's panties or hose is a defense against rape (the courts have made it quite clear that that is not a defense against rape.) In fact at least a couple of the victims have had pain passing their bowels and physicians have verified the presence of injuries to the lower colon. So whether they had on pajamas or underwear is a matter of irrelevance.

Anonymous said...

Hey Eli If you had a choice between getting raped with your underware and pajamas on or off I bet it wouldnt be so irrelevant then.Let me know if you would chose the latter

Anonymous said...

now if a parent had been accused with no evidence their lives would be destroyed, if a drifter with the carnival had brushed up against these kids several years in prison would result. Do I think this ridculios YES!!!!!!!!!!

Eli Blake said...


Now if you had a choice between getting raped with your pajamas on or off...

Exactly. This was rape, as is all child sexual abuse.

As for the pajamas issue, that really is pretty irrelevant. So maybe they prevented the broomstick from going in quite as far (but still far enough to cause documented internal injury to some of the boys), It's still rape, and they should still be going to prison for a long time. And believe me, if it was you or me, then we would be going there for a long time. But the son of the President of the Senate, he can do what he darn well wants and get away with it. This is very likely a combination of the fact that he could afford top notch legal representation together with the 'celebrity/power' status of his father (call this particularly potent combination the O.J./Michael Jackson/Robert Blake/any Kennedy 'get out of jail free' card). Had Clifton Bennett committed his crimes in another state, he might have gotten a stiffer sentence, but in Arizona, it's pretty minimal for what he admits that he did.

Anonymous said...

Look kids do stupid things and goosing eachother with broom sticks does happen.Its stupid, its wrong, its grose, but to me it does not rise to the level of equaling what happened to that prisoner in NY like you said before.I had my pants pulled down several times in school and I hated that but I would never say rape.

Eli Blake said...


Pulling your pants down in school is not rape. Inserting a foreign object into your body (whether through your underwear or not) is legally defined as 'penetration.' If it is done by force against your will, then it is sexual assault (rape.)

Unless you are related to Ken Bennett, in which case it is a misdemeanor.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god! I have never heard of such a blaten misjustice. There needs to be a lot of hearts searched before the next elections. All who took part in this mockery of justice should most definently be chastised. God have no mercy on their souls.

Anonymous said...

Bennet, Bennet, Bennet.
We here in Prescott are sick of the name of Bennet. I belieeve his father should have resigned from his post. Proves he didnt do a good job raising his son.
If i ever see Bennet junior, I hope he can run a mile under 5 minutes, Because I will be chasing him with a broom to place between his buttocks. It was an accident, he fell on to the broom whilst trying to run.
I hope that the parents of the kids who have been abused sue Bennet & Co to the hilt. The Bennet Family(also Wheeler) have tainted Prescott's Peacefulness.

Anonymous said...

Looks as if your thoughts on this are political not helpful and Bennett is not a big oil man. His family owns a few gas stations around the state. His son was wrong but after reading the transcripts of the court it was not rape in any way shape or form. I am sure that younge Bennett will not enjoy prison and if you where his father you would do what ever it took to keep him out... I would.