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Judge gives former TV reporter longer than suggested sentence

Aug 29 2012
In sentencing former Global TV reporter Ron Bencze, Judge Robin Baird said he was alarmed by statements Bencze made in a pre-sentence report that it was the child who initiated the sexual contact. 

In sentencing former Global TV reporter Ron Bencze, Judge Robin Baird said he was alarmed by statements Bencze made in a pre-sentence report that it was the child who initiated the sexual contact.

Photograph by: Tom Zytaruk, Surrey Now , The Province

Former Global B.C. television reporter Ron Bencze, who abused a child for a number of years, has been sentenced to four years in prison.

In July, Bencze, 45, pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual assault. He was initially charged with three counts of sexual assault, four counts of sexual interference, two counts of invitation to sexual touching involving three people under the age of 16 and one count of breaching his bail conditions.

The remaining charges were stayed by the Crown Tuesday following sentencing in B.C. provincial court in Surrey.

The assaults on the boy, who is now 16 and cannot be identified because of a publication ban, took place between March 15, 2003 and Dec. 31, 2010.

The victim's mother went to police last January after finding sexual text messages from Bencze on her 14-year-old son's cellphone.

Bencze's relationship with the boy began when the victim was around six years old and the abuse, which began in earnest when the child was nine, included masturbation and oral sex.

Crown prosecutor Jennifer Lopes had sought a custodial sentence of two to three years, while the defence asked for an 18-to 24-month conditional sentence followed by probation, or an intermittent sentence.

In his reasons for sentence, Judge Robin Baird described Bencze's behaviour as "deviant" and said Bencze had committed a major sexual offence for which he must pay a heavy price.

"He was an adult of mature years and sound mind who should have known better, and for whom the boundaries - ought to have been crystal clear and meticulously observed," he said.

Baird said he was "alarmed and not a little disturbed" by statements attributed to Bencze in a psychological report submitted during the sentencing hearing.

Bencze said that the complainant, who was a child at the time, started the sexual contact and initiated every sexual encounter. Bencze said he went along with it to please the boy and avoid hurting his feelings, although Bencze later admitted to enjoying how the relationship made him feel.

"His views - lead me to question whether even now he appreciates the magnitude of the wrong he has committed and the overwhelming responsibility that he bears for what happened," Baird said.

Bencze's sentence includes a 10-year firearms prohibition, a DNA order and he has to stay away for 20 years from parks, playgrounds, daycares and other areas where children are expected to be.

The victim's family and supporters burst into sobs, applauded and said, "Yes!" when the sentence was read.

Outside the courtroom, they continued applauding and shouted, "Justice!"

They did not wish to speak to media. "They feel the focus should be on the outcome to Mr. Bencze and the sentence that's been imposed, and the conduct and what was said about it in court today," Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said.

When asked about the fact that the judge imposed a longer sentence than what the Crown had asked for, MacKenzie said the Crown respects the court's discretion to impose what it sees as a fit sentence.

"Certainly in the circumstance here, the decision of the judge was strongly worded and it's clear that he viewed Mr. Bencze's conduct as highly aggravated and the penalty imposed reflects that," MacKenzie said.

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