Sexual assault case heads to trial

April 7, 2015
Benjamin Bentz, with his attorney, Ryan Maesen.

Benjamin Bentz, with his attorney, Ryan Maesen.

By Allison Scarbrough. Contributing Editor.

LUDINGTON — A Ludington man accused of five counts of criminal sexual conduct (CSC) involving a victim under 13 years old, appeared in 51st Circuit Court Tuesday, April 7, for a final conference hearing.

Benjamin Michael Bentz, 33, was arrested last November by the Ludington Police Department and charged with four felony counts of first-degree CSC (victim under 13/defendant over 17) and one felony count of second-degree CSC.

First-degree CSC, which is punishable by up to life in prison, alleges sexual penetration took place, while second-degree CSC alleges sexual activity.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola offered a plea agreement in which Bentz could plead to count five of second-degree CSC and an added sixth count of first-degree CSC without the age specification, then the other four counts would be dismissed. The plea agreement also required that Bentz be subject to lifetime electronic monitoring.

Bentz’s court-appointed attorney, Ryan Maesen, said his client did not accept the plea agreement and wants to proceed to trial.

The case will be set for a jury trial at the first available date, Judge Susan Sniegowski said.

Bentz is currently lodged in Mason County Jail on a $75,000 cash/surety bond.

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