Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Slap on the Wrist for Young Bennett

Clifton Bennett, son of Arizona Senate President, Ken Bennett will serve no jail time for sodomizing 18 boys at a summer camp with flashlights and broomsticks if Yavapai County prosecutors have their way. Today's Arizona Republic informs us:

The son of Arizona's Senate president confessed that he and another counselor shoved broomsticks and flashlights into the rectums of 18 boys in at least 40 incidents at a youth camp in June.

Now Yavapai County prosecutors say they will drop all but one assault charge and likely recommend little or no jail time if 18-year-old Clifton Bennett agrees to plead guilty.

But what did you expect? Did you really think that the son of a prominent Republican politican would go to jail in Arizona? Dream on.

Nope, young Bennett will instead be going on a mission for his church.

... in a letter to the Yavapai County attorney, Bennett's lawyers said he immediately "took responsibility for his role, showed remorse and admitted that this 'hazing' was inappropriate."

They described Bennett as an honor student and active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, planning to go on a mission in September. "A felony conviction for assault will make his desire to complete his mission impossible," they wrote.

Under the plea agreements Bennett and Wheeler could face a maximum two years in prison. But the court could reduce the charges to a misdemeanor and no jail time.

Needless to say, the parents of the victims will not be pleased with this outcome.
The pleas, which describe the assault charge as "a non-dangerous, non-repetitive offense," have outraged parents who say their sons were victims of violent sexual attacks. The boys, who were 11 to 14 years old at the time, have had trouble going to the bathroom, sleep with clothes on, are afraid at night, and have undergone sexual-assault counseling.

The parents want Bennett and Wheeler to face sexual-assault charges, undergo psychosexual evaluations and spend several days in jail per victim.

"Our biggest concern is that these kids are going to do it again," said the mother of an 11-year-old Tucson boy. "My son had something shoved up his butt seven or eight times. If that's not sexual assault, what is?"