Apparently when your dad is Arizona’s Senate president you can get away with shoving various objects up the asses of other kids:
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.
A similar agreement has been offered to co-defendant Kyle Wheeler, 19, who faces an additional assault charge for choking three of the boys until they passed out.
According to the prosecutors these incidents weren’t technically sexual assault because they couldn’t prove the two young men had sexual intentions in performing the act, but sexual assault experts say intent has nothing to do with the issue and even the prosecutors admit they’d start from a different standpoint had the victims been girls.
“They could have been charged with sexual assault,” said Sue Eazer, supervisor of the Pima County Attorney’s Special Victims Unit. “Sexual assault is oftentimes not motivated by sexual desire.”
Eazer said she has prosecuted several sexual-assault cases involving objects being shoved into children’s body cavities.
“It makes no difference to me if it is a male or female (victim),” she said, adding that intent can be a factor in cases of child molestation, where a parent might be accused of touching an infant while changing a diaper.
The Yavapai County case has national implications for the legal system, said Andrew Vachss, a lawyer specializing in child cases and a best-selling author who uses profits from his books to fund legal work for abused kids.
“This is a theory of prosecution that is based on taking the word of the perpetrators,” Vachss said in a phone interview from his New York office. “That’s what you have juries for . . . Let the perps tell a jury, ‘I inserted a foreign object into the rectums of little boys, but I had no sexual intent.’ “
Vachss, who was asked to comment on the case by The Arizona Republic, said most state laws on sexual assault require only insertion, not intent.
Needless to say, the parents of the victims are a bit pissed off about this arrangement:
“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?”
Under the plea deal the 36 counts both men were charged with will be reduced to a single charge in exchange for a guilty plea:
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.
Prosecutors have told parents that they are going to recommend Bennett and Wheeler get five days in jail on the one count, said Lynne Cadigan, a lawyer for two victims.
“If you rape 18 women, would you only be charged with one count?” she said.
You would if your dad is an important politician in Arizona it would seem.