Victim testifies in sexual assault trial

June 3, 2015
Benjamin Bentz, with his attorney, Ryan Maesen, during a hearing in 51st Circuit Court in April.

Benjamin Bentz, with his attorney, Ryan Maesen, during a final conference hearing in 51st Circuit Court in April.

By Allison Scarbrough. Contributing Editor.

LUDINGTON — The victim in a criminal sexual conduct case provided graphic testimony Wednesday, June 3, in 51st Circuit Court.

The defendant, Benjamin Michael Bentz, 33, of Ludington is accused of five counts of criminal sexual conduct (CSC) involving a victim under 13 years old.

“The jury was seated in the early afternoon,” stated Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola. “The victim testified first and was finished at about 3:20 p.m. She testified as to four instances of penile/anal penetration occurring in her bedroom in the family house in Ludington. She also testified to one instance of sexual contact, defendant’s fingers on her vagina (skin on skin) in conjunction with one of the penetration incidents. The incidents occurred when the victim’s mother was in jail.”

Bentz 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.

Spaniola offered a plea agreement in April 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 wanted to proceed to trial.

“The defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty of the charges,” Spaniola said.

The trial resumes tomorrow at 9 a.m., and the prosecutor said he expects it will be completed tomorrow. Both the prosecution and the defense have three witnesses to call tomorrow, he said.

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

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