Thursday, October 9, 1997

Suzanne Fournier
Staff Reporter

p. A9.

Police 'shocked' by light sentence

Police and the public are outraged at the light sentence handed a school principal who was an avid consumer of child pornography.

And evidence has emerged for the first time that some of William Bennest's pornographic material included photos and videos he made of a young boy "with an often-erect penis" who knew and trusted him.

Citizens' and parents' groups said they now fear the 12-year-old was a student at Clinton elementary in Burnaby, where Bennest was principal. However, regional Crown counsel Austin Cullen refused to confirm whether these allegations were true and said his office is reviewing the case before deciding whether to appeal.

One of Vancouver's top police officers says he was "shocked" and "disappointed" that B.C. provincial court Judge William Kitchen declined last Friday to sentence Bennest to jail.

We're very disappointed at the sentence given by Judge Kitchen," said acting deputy chief constable Ken Doern. "The suspended sentence was a shock, given the breach of trust that was involved."

Bennest got probation and a suspended sentence in return for pleading guilty to one count of possessing child pornography. In September 1996, police arrested him and seized 43 videotapes, five audio cassettes and numerous photos, posters and magazines from his west-side Vancouver home. Three child-sex charges and two of making and possessing child pornography were laid, but the Crown stayed the first three in January.

In a court transcript provided to CKNW radio, Crown counsel Greg Webber asked for a jail term, saying "this is a very identifiable young boy whose image has been used, albeit in the household of Mr. Bennest, for the making of child pornography."

Kitchen said the sexual images of a boy with Bennest "are upsetting but not as extreme as many items of pornography we see. They are relatively mild compared to some pornography which is distributed."

The judge noted that Bennest "had a sexual fantasy of young boys, particularly this one young boy," with whom he "was obsessed."

[Vancouver '97] [News by region] [News by topic]

Created: October 9, 1997
Last modified: October 9, 1997

CSIS Commercial Sex Information Service
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710