A former Wright-Patterson Air Force Base officer had illicit sexual conduct with at least two adolescent boys while he was on active duty, federal court documents allege.
Retired Sgt. Ronald Bennett, 44, served at WPAFB from 1995 to 2005. Federal and military investigators allege misconduct during that time and afterwards when one boy visited Bennett at an Air Force base in Louisiana and when he returned to the Dayton area for a visit in June 2006.
Bennett, who now lives in Massillon, Ohio, pleaded guilty to transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, but a plea deal and sentencing range of 24 to 70 months was not accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice. A teleconference is scheduled for July 14 to determine how the case will progress.
"The government is open to all options," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Vipal Patel, adding that Bennett can withdraw his plea; go ahead with the plea and be sentenced by Rice; or negotiate a new plea deal.
The FBI and Air Force Office of Special Investigations concluded that Bennett "began engaging in 'parallel' sexual activity in 2005 with two boys who lived near him in the vicinity of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base," according to court documents.
The documents also said matters escalated when Bennett enticed one of the boys to travel with him to Louisiana, where he was stationed, to engage in illicit sexual conduct with each other.
"While in the Dayton area to pick up the one boy, he engaged in similar illicit sexual conduct with the other boy, in the darkness and secrecy of a hotel room where yet even more boys were present," court documents allege.
A pre-sentence investigation report identified two other teenage boys who were interviewed by agents investigating. Bennett's attorney objected to the inclusion of the other boys in the report because they were not mentioned in the statement of facts supporting a guilty plea.
After his honorable discharge from the Air Force in 2010, Bennett worked for the Village Network, a treatment facility for boys charged with or convicted of sex offenses, court documents say. Bennett no longer works there and has been on house arrest for a year.
Federal public defender Thomas Anderson wrote that Bennett accepted responsibility for inappropriate sexual conduct with two teenagers, but that "There is nothing before the court to suggest Mr. Bennett is a pedophile — the victims in this case were adolescent boys."
In a sentencing memorandum, Patel wrote: "He not only betrayed the trust of the two boys and their families, but of the USAF and the American public as well."
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