The MASSIVE cognitive dissonance in US right-wing neo-CON politics lumbers on, like a huge prehistoric creature whose dysfunctional actions signal the ongoing extinction of its species.
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.
The plea agreements were first presented in court last week and could be completed at a hearing Monday.
Prosecuting attorney James Landis explained the plea agreement in court, saying the "broomsticking" was a hazing ritual and a punishment, not sexual assault.
But legal experts, sex-crimes prosecutors and victims'-rights lawyers say the acts clearly fit the definition of sexual assault.
The pleas, which describe the assault charge as "a non-dangerous, non-repetitive offense," have outraged parents who say their sons were victims of violent sexual attacks. The boys, who were 11 to 14 years old at the time, have had trouble going to the bathroom, sleep with clothes on, are afraid at night, and have undergone sexual-assault counseling. [...]
Lawyers for [Clifton] Bennett [...] described Bennett as an honor student and active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, planning to go on a mission in September. "A felony conviction for assault will make his desire to complete his mission impossible," they wrote.
A judge on Friday sentenced the son of Arizona Senate President Ken Bennett to 30 days in jail and his fellow counselor to 45 days for a series of hazings at a youth camp near Prescott last June.Clifton Bennett, 18, and fellow counselor Kyle Wheeler, 19, admitted to abusing 18 boys ages 11 to 14 — who had been hand-picked for a weeklong leadership camp — by poking them in the rear end with broomsticks, a flashlight and a cane as a punishment or just because they were in a bad mood. [...]
More than a dozen victims' parents spoke, calling the hazing sexual assault and molestation despite findings by state experts that there was no sexual intent behind the "broomings."
Both sides of the case expressed disappointment with the sentence. Family members and victims called it too lenient and said Bennett got a deal because of his father's position, while Bennett's family said he was treated with more scrutiny because of his father.
Bennett and Wheeler had each been charged with 18 counts of kidnapping and 18 counts of aggravated assault. Bennett was allowed to plead guilty to one assault charge while Wheeler pleaded guilty to two charges. Prosecutors dropped the other charges.
Notice the change in language from one media report to the other. Actions that were violent, forced upon children, invasive of their bodies and caused them damage and harm, are now described as "a poke in the rear end".
Did Jerry Sandusky use similar innocuous words to defend his behaviour when (or more likely if) Penn State football coach Paterno questioned him?
Afterward, Bennett and his father left the courthouse from the back to avoid media attention.The families will probably launch civil suits. Clearly none of them gravitate in the exalted, privileged circles of political and oligarchal power that the Bennetts do.
When reporters caught up with them, the elder Bennett said his son had made an unfortunate decision.
When asked how he felt about the sentence, Bennett said: "How would you feel if your son were going to jail?"
The above is a photograph of serial sexual abuser Clifton Bennett.
I fear this man will re-offend, and he'll use the considerable resources at his disposal to avoid any form of accountability. This experience has probably also taught him how not to get caught, next time. Leave no witnesses.
ADDED: The Daily KOS nails it.
[...] when your son brutally traumatizes a bunch of 11 to 14 year-olds, you don’t whine about the sentence. You are down on your hands and knees begging forgiveness from the victims, for maybe having failed to meet your obligations as a parent.
But the overlords of Happy Valley – whether it’s a college campus or the state of Arizona - never teach this kind of accountability to their children because they don’t face it themselves. Their money, their connections, their fame, their manipulation of the system mean never, ever having to say they’re sorry and actually mean it, let alone pay an appropriate price for what they do.
I don’t want these people anywhere in or near the White House. Because they are the kind of people who will steal your children’s clean water for their fracking profits. They will let your children go to bed hungry and come to school hungry, so they can get another $150,000 off their taxes. And they will send your children to die in Iraq, or Iran, or wherever the next trumped-up conflict is, so they can continue to profit from war.