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AZ State Senator’s Son Admits Sex Offense

October 27, 2009

azstarnet.com : State senator’s son, 2nd teen admit ‘brooming’- from 2006

The son of state Senate President (now Arizona Secretary of State) Ken Bennett admitted in court Monday to assaulting middle school boys with a broomstick in their rectal areas, but a judge allowed charges against him to be reduced from 18 to one, and he may avoid jail. Three of the 18 victims, all boys between the ages of 11 and 15, are from Tucson, and the families are angry that 18-year-old Clifton Bennett and co-defendant Kyle Wheeler, 19, were not charged with sexual assault.

Also, the families said Bennett is being treated favorably by the court system because of his father’s position in the Legislature. Bennett’s plea would allow the court to classify the aggravated-assault conviction as a misdemeanor, which means he could go on to become a teacher or counselor and would never have to disclose the so-called “brooming” incident.

“I think he got a sweetheart deal,” said the father of one of the three Tucson victims, a 12-year-old boy who attends a local Catholic school. “I’d like him to get a year in prison. The victims should have been heard from before the plea was agreed to. If this was 18 girls who were victims, it would have been sexual assault.”
Ken Bennett and his family would not comment Monday. The senator and his wife were in court throughout Monday’s hearing.

Police reports say the assaults took place at Chapel Rock Camp in Prescott during a weeklong camp for school leaders in June. Witnesses told police that the junior counselors lined up the youngsters, told them to bend over and “broomsticked” them. The boys told police “broomsticking” was done alternately with a broom, a cane, a mop handle and a heavy-duty flashlight while they were clothed.

Bennett read a statement to the court in which he admitted the brooming and said he did it with the intention of insulting them through humiliation. “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,” 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 flashlight handle were the objects used. I know all of the campers were broomed at least once.”

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