A judge in Lima, Ohio found a former police officer guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl on Tuesday. 28-year-old Justin Bentz, who was fired after the crime last year, reportedly committed the rape while off-duty only hours after participating in a continuing education course on sexual assault against minors.
Prosecutor Todd Schroeder said during the two-day trial that on June 11, 2015 Bentz was ironically in his online class learning about how to collect evidence in child sexual assault cases and the difficulties of prosecuting these crimes before getting a 16-year-old drunk and forcing her to have intercourse with him. The girl was believed to be at Bentz’s home visiting her sister, the girlfriend of Bentz’s roommate.
The girl testified that after the others in the house went to bed, he approached her with 80 proof liquor. After she had taken five shots he raped her in spite of her saying no several times.
Bentz’s attorney claimed the sex was consensual, but Bentz made matters worse when he took the stand himself to claim that the girl was at fault for trying to force herself on him.
While Schroeder had no idea what Bentz was going to say when he took the stand, he said Bentz’s testimony, including refusing to admit to any wrongdoing and even denying he was a peace officer at the time of the crime, destroyed his credibility and led to his conviction. Bentz also painted the 92-pound, 5-foot-2 girl as the aggressor out to have sex with him.
The girl’s testimony, Judge David Cheney believes, was credible and consistent with the evidence.
Cheney also said the victim “looks extremely young” while saying others described her maturity as consistent with a 13-year-old girl, which several people said she looked that age.
Cheney said Bentz’s testimony was hard to believe coupled with the fact he was a police officer while trying to plead an ignorance to the victim’s age.
“He indicated it never occurred to him she was a minor,” Cheney said. “As a police officer, Mr. Bentz had every reason to believe this child was extremely young and to say that the thought of her age never crossed his mind, frankly, borders on the destruction of credibility.”
Bentz faces a maximum sentence of 22 years for his convictions of rape, kidnapping, two counts of sexual battery, and a misdemeanor for giving alcohol to a minor. His sentencing date has been set for April 14th.
Justin Bentz was involved in a fatal police shooting for which no officers were charged just months after he was hired by Fort Shawnee Police Department in November 2011.