The son of Ken Bennett, president of the Arizona state senate admitted in court earlier this week to assaulting school boys of between the age of 11 and 15 with a broomstick and other items. However, the judge deliberating on the case decided to drop all but one of the 18 charges against him which may result in him avoiding jail.
Clifton Bennett, 18, and co-defendant Kyle Wheeler, 19, were not charged with sexual assault but instead have pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
Families of the boys who were subjected to a “brooming”, where broomsticks and other items were pressed against boys’ rectums claim that Mr Bennett is being treated favourably by the court because of his father’s status within the state legislature. They argue that it is wrong for him to be allowed to go on to become a teacher following the incident, which would be allowed if he is convicted only of a misdemeanour.
“I think he got a sweetheart deal,” said the father of a 12 year old victim. “I’d like him to get a year in prison. The victims should have been heard from before the plea was agreed to. If it had been 18 girls who were victims, it would have been sexual assault.”
Local police claim that the assaults took place at the Chapel Rock Camp in Prescott, Arizona during a week long camp in June of last year. Witnesses claim that the defendants lined up the younger boys, told them to bend over and attempted to insert a broom, a cane, a mop handle and a heavy-duty flash light into the boys’ rectums whilst they were clothed.
Confirming the allegations, Mr Bennett told the court: “I know I personally broomed a number of the campers. I know I personally restrained a number of the campers. I now know this was an assault under the law,” Mr Bennett said. ” ‘Brooming’ was the name given for the practice of poking a camper, while clothed, in the area of the butt. A broom handle, a cane and a flash light handle were the objects used. I know all of the campers were broomed at least once.”
“If these were two kids from South Tucson without money or connections, they would never have been offered this deal,”Lynne M Cadigan, attorney for one of the families told the Arizona Star.
The case continues.