Senate president’s son sodomizes 18 boys, is not charged with sexual assault

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Clifton Bennett, 18-year-old son of Arizona state Senate president Ken Bennett, and his friend, 19-year-old Kyle Wheeler, were charged in January of 18 counts of aggravated assault and 18 counts of kidnapping. The charges refer to incidents which occurred at a boys’ student government leadership skills camp in June of 2005, at which Bennett confesed that he and Wheeler sodomized several 11- to 14-year-old boys with broomsticks and flashlights in 40 separate incidents.

Wheeler has an additional assault charge based on his choking three boys until they passed out.

Yesterday, the pair was offered a plea agreement that will include no record of sexual assault; they will likely receive 90-day jail sentences, though the judge could reduce the charges and give them no jail time at all.

According to the victims’ parents, the boys are having some type of colonic difficulty, they are sleeping with their clothes on, are afraid at night, and have received sexual assault-related counseling. However, the prosecutor told the judge that the “broomsticking” was a “hazing ritual” and a punishment for breaking rules, not sexual assault. The assaults, he said, were not viewed as sexual in nature because the prosecution could not prove that the perpetrators had “sexual intent.” One has to wonder how this prosecutor does with other rape cases.

Bennett is an honor student and an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If convicted of a felony, he would not be allowed to go on a planned church mission in September.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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