CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal prosecutor says the mother of an alleged victim in an abuse and pornography case vomited when she saw the images that a suspended Nicholas County sheriff’s deputy shared on Snapchat of her young daughter.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Omar Aboulhosn said the charges caused him “great concern” and ordered Deputy Jarrod Bennett Thursday afternoon to remain in jail as he awaits his criminal trial.
Aboulhosn heard the prosecution’s evidence during Bennett’s arraignment and detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Charleston. Bennett, 38, of Mount Nebo, was arrested last week after a federal grand jury handed up an 11-count criminal indictment. He was suspended in June. The 18-year law enforcement veteran was in court Thursday in handcuffs and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit.
Bennett’s attorney Tim Carrico argued Aboulhosn should allow Bennett to be on home confinement. He called Bennett’s mother, Amanda Bennett, to the stand. She said her son would stay in her Summersville home and that she would report him if he violated any terms of his release. She said she doesn’t have internet.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Herrald argued against home confinement. She told Aboulhosn there’s evidence that Bennett used his phone to video the private areas of the victim, a young girl, while in a bathroom in his Mount Nebo home and again while she was partially covered with a blanket. Herrald told the judge Bennett took screen shots of his video and posted them on the internet.
Herrald said the girl’s mother has since told authorities she was the person in the images.
“Her initial response is that she said it was her daughter and then vomited and then she changed her story…that’s deeply disturbing,” Herrald told Aboulhosn.
Herrald said there are also five counts against Bennett in connection with his attempted cover-up of what happened including, after he was suspended, twice remotely accessing his sheriff’s department laptop and deleting large amounts of data.
She said Bennett “took advantage of his knowledge of the law” to commit the crimes.
Carrico argued the three children in the home were interviewed by the state Division of Child Protective Services (CPS) and the decision was made by the agency not to open an investigation. He also said the children made no disclosures in previous counseling.
“CPS dropped the ball on this case in large part,” she said. “No one did anything to protect this child. CPS has failed her and her own family has failed her and this court must step in,” Herrald said.
Aboulhosn ordered Bennett to stay in jail. He said he wasn’t concerned as much about him being a flight risk as he was about the specifics of the charges.
“The underlying facts are that this defendant sexually abused a young child in his home and in addition took active steps to cover it up when he became aware of the investigation,” Aboulhosn said.
Bennett pleaded not guilty during his arraignment. His trial was scheduled for Oct. 30 with pretrial motions set for Oct. 12.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Bennett, who was crying, told family members he loved them and was escorted out of the courtroom and back to jail.