Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Assume the Position

It looks like Ken Bennett's son may cut a deal.

How did I know this case would never go to trial?

'Brooming' suspects may get plea deal

Tucson boy was among 17 police say were assaulted

By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star

Police reports say he was assaulted with a broomstick, a flashlight and a cane — and now a 12-year-old Tucson boy may see the camp counselors accused of attacking him receive a plea deal that could allow them to avoid prison.

The boy is one of 17 middle school students, ages 11 through 15, who police reports say were assaulted by three teenage counselors at a camp for school leaders in Prescott last summer. One of the counselors was Clifton Roy Bennett, the 18-year-old son of Arizona Senate President Ken Bennett.

The Yavapai County Attorney's Office, which is prosecuting the case, is saying only that Bennett and his co-defendants are scheduled for an early disposition hearing in Yavapai County Superior Court today.

Office spokeswoman Penny Cramer said she did not know anything else about the case. Two calls from the Arizona Daily Star to prosecutor James Landis on Friday and Monday were not returned. A Monday call to Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk also was not returned.

Clifton Bennett and Kyle Wheeler, 19, each had been originally charged with 18 counts of aggravated assault and 18 counts of kidnapping. They were arrested last month, after an official at one of the students' schools reported the incident to authorities. A third suspect also was expected to face charges.

Lawyers for Bennett and Wheeler did not return phone calls Monday.

Bennett and Wheeler described the activity with the boys as hazing and roughhousing, in interviews with the Prescott Police Department.

Wheeler said he had endured the same thing as a camper. Bennett told detectives he had participated in "brooming," but he thought it was all in fun.

According to police reports, the assaults took place at Chapel Rock Camp during a weeklong camp for school leaders in June. The reports say some campers clogged a toilet and, when no one would confess, witnesses told police the junior counselors lined up the youngsters, told them to bend over and "broomsticked" them.

The boys told police that "broomsticking" was done alternately with a broom, a cane, a mop handle and a heavy-duty flashlight while they were clothed. The exact definition of broomsticking varied, according to witness reports, from touching brooms to the boys' rectal areas to one description of how a boy was held down and the witness said the broomstick was "shoved" into his bottom.

Other witnesses say Wheeler choked several of the boys until they passed out.

At least two of the victims are from Tucson, according to local attorney Lynne M. Cadigan, who is acting as an advocate for one of them, a 12-year-old boy who attends Catholic school.

The father of that boy says he did not know about the assaults until a detective called the family's home in December. The father said his son spoke directly with the detective and has been reluctant to discuss the incidents with his family.

Cadigan says the assaults were clearly sexual, and both boys suffered physical trauma. She says both Wheeler and Bennett should have been charged with sexual assault and that they both deserve prison time.

The father said he spoke to the victim advocate in the County Attorney's Office, who told them Clifton Bennett was going to be offered a plea bargain to one count of aggravated assault.

Cadigan also said she was told by a representative from the office that Bennett is being offered a plea bargain to one count of aggravated assault and Wheeler will be offered two counts. They'll both face probation rather than jail or prison time, a possibility.

"Come on. I told her that was unacceptable. This was not roughhousing. These are 12- and 13-year-old kids. Anyone else would go to prison for six to 10 years," said the father, whom the Star is not naming because it would identify his son.

"I do remember when we picked him up from camp he complained that his butt hurt. But we didn't pursue it. We had no idea what had been going on," he said. "He's a pretty accomplished kid and he's in counseling now, so hopefully he'll get over it. He's a strong kid."

According to police reports, the Tucson boy was a particular target of Wheeler. Witnesses told police that Wheeler did not like the child because he talked a lot and so he "broomed" him more than any other camper. The boy told detectives that he was "broomed" seven to 10 times, and that all three of the suspects participated.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happened to have been at AAJHSC camp that week. I can't believe that was going on just on the other side of chapel rock, i mean clif and kile always seemed so nice i would have never thought... well i guess people aren't always what the seem and i really wished i would have payed better attention to my surroundings.I just feel so bad becuase i made friends with one of the guys and must not have been a very good one because if i was i would have be bright enough to ask why hey looked so, so sick....

6:30 PM  
Blogger toc001 said...

"Clifton Bennett and Kyle Wheeler, 19, each had been originally charged with 18 counts of aggravated assault and 18 counts of kidnapping."

Isn't Kidnapping a Federal Crime?


"Wheeler said he had endured the same thing as a camper. Bennett told detectives he had participated in "brooming," but he thought it was all in fun."

WOW!

"Other witnesses say Wheeler choked several of the boys until they passed out."

That sounds like "fun" too!

Boys will be boys! Just a little "branding" action and these boys could be Preznit someday!

Sorry, I don't mean to make light at all, it just my way of dealing.

I feel so sorry for the vitims here. You want the rapists to be exposed, ridiculed and punished, but the victims shouldn't have to relive this horror any more than they already have.

I would definitely bring a civil suit here.

6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have attended the AAJHSC leadership camp for 5 years-two as a camper and three as a Junior Counselor. I loved this camp and everything it did for me as a Student Council kid in Jr. High and High School. I personally know Clif and Kyle and volunteered with them both for two summers. These guys are good hearted and would not do anything to intentionally harm anyone. All of this was roughhousing. It's nothing more than what high school guys would do to each other in a locker room. If the boys in the cabin weren't able to stand the simple hazing, they should have said something during camp, or at the latest, right when they got home. Waiting until six months have gone by is quite uncalled for, and this gave room for the whole case to be blown out of proprtion. I hope those victims involved feel just swell for trying to destroy the lives of two good men.

9:18 PM  
Anonymous Brother William said...

If the boys in the cabin weren't able to stand the simple hazing

So the US is just getting a "hazing" in Iraq is it? If only they had said something...

I hope those victims involved feel just swell for trying to destroy the lives of two good men.

Of course. How dare they object to being analy raped!

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the number for Terry Stoddard, the Arizona Attorney General.
His website goes on and on about stopping Cyber Sex Stalking --

here is his office number. Voice your outrage.

Terry Stoddard -- 602.542.5025

5:27 AM  
Blogger Zelph said...

I think you mean Terry Goddard.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story is sickening. I don't know what is worse, the fact that a Senator has the power to prevent charges against his son who raped 18 little boys, or the couple sickos commenting on the story who say these boys should be ashamed of themselves for reporting being raped.

The prosecutor in this case should realize that they just sold their soul to the devil. I hope she never gets another night of sleep in her life. She wouldn't if she had a conscious. There is concrete evidence and confessions of the sexual assault, and they don't prosecute them? 18 of Arizona's most promising children for future leadership are sexually assaulted and nothing is done?

Sheila Polk is the worst kind of scum there is. Just as bad as the 2 ADULTS in this case who raped 18 little boys.

9:49 PM  

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