Ludington man gets 32-year prison sentence for sexual assault of young girl

July 14, 2015
Benjamin Bentz with his attorney, Ryan Maesen.

Benjamin Bentz with his attorney, Ryan Maesen.

By Allison Scarbrough. Contributing Editor.

LUDINGTON — A 34-year-old Ludington man was sentenced to a minimum of 32 years in prison in 51st Circuit Court Tuesday July 14, for molesting a girl who was 8 and 9 years old at the time.

Benjamin Michael Bentz was found guilty on all counts of molesting the young girl following a two-day jury trial last month. Bentz is convicted of four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) and one count of second-degree CSC.

The victim in the case provided graphic testimony, stating that four instances of penetration occurred in her bedroom in the family house in Ludington, Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola said previously. She also testified to one instance of sexual contact. The incidents occurred when the victim’s mother was in jail.

“The facts of this case were certainly horrific,” Spaniola said during Bentz’s sentencing.

Bentz has been lodged in the Mason County Jail since his arrest last November. His bond was set at $75,000 cash/surety.

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 deal in April that called for a minimum of 11 years and three months in prison. Bentz rejected the offer and went to trial.

At sentencing, Judge Susan Sniegowski ordered that Bentz serve four concurrent prison terms of 25-75 years for the four first-degree CSC convictions and one term of seven to 15 years for the second-degree CSC conviction, which is consecutive to the first four convictions.

Ryan Maesen, the Grand Rapids attorney hired by Bentz’s family, asked the judge not to impose a consecutive sentence. “This is already a horrific sentence,” Maesen said. “Twenty five years to life is more than enough. His life is ruined, and his family’s lives are ruined.”

Bentz asked the judge for “mercy and leniency” in a prepared statement that Maesen took over reading because Bentz was overcome with emotion. Several family members attended the sentencing, appearing visibly upset.

Bentz, who received credit for 250 days served in jail, will be subject to lifetime electronic monitoring upon release from prison.