LIMA — The 16-year-old girl who accused a Lima Police Department officer of raping her said Tuesday she repeatedly told him no despite her intoxicated state.
The girl, now 17 and still 5 foot 2, and only a few pounds above the 92 she weighed June 11, testified for one hour including answering a barrage of questions by Justin Bentz’s defense attorney Bill Kluge, who she told Kluge several times he was trying to alter her words or say things that did not happen.
“You’re trying to confuse me,” she said. “I told him no.”
Bentz, now 28, is charged with rape, kidnapping, and two counts of sexual battery, all felonies, and one count of a crime involving an underage person, a misdemeanor. Bentz is accused of sexually assaulting the teenager at the Agerter Road home where her sister stayed with her boyfriend and Bentz was a roommate.
Kluge said Bentz and the teenager did have sex but she pursued him and he gave in. Kluge also used the defense that Bentz technically was not a “peace officer” under Ohio law on that day because he had a lapse in his continuing education requirements to maintain his status. That element is key because police officers are not permitted to have sex with an underage person even with consent. Without it, Benz would, at minimum, be guilty of sexual battery.
But the woman who handles the peace officer certification program for the state testified Bentz, who was in his first year with the Lima Police Department, was a peace officer at the time of the reported rape. Bentz was fired after the alleged crime.
The most interesting thing about Kluge’s argument, outside the legal realm, is Bentz was ordered to complete his training, which happened in the hours before the alleged incident while he was on the job at the Lima Police Department and that training involved sexual assault crimes, including material on a police officer and sexual encounters with a person under 18.
The subject of his training specifically was crimes against children and sexual assault, the law relating to a police officer having sex with a minor, evidence collection, a review on how alcohol can affect a victim, and the difficulties in prosecuting a case with a “he said, she said” scenario, Prosecutor Todd Schroeder said.
The teenager, positioning herself to not look at Bentz, said she has tried to block out the events of that night. She testified he came home from his job and eventually was left alone with him in a room. Bentz asked her if she wanted to drink a shot of 80-proof alcohol, which she agreed. He poured it but left the glass in the kitchen for her to retrieve which she did.
One shot led to four or five, she said, and she soon found herself on the floor with blurry vision unable to walk or stand. Bentz picked her up and placed her on the kitchen counter where she said he grabbed her buttocks and tried to have sex with her.
Her pants were removed and she said Bentz carried her into his bedroom and got on top of her to engage in sex. She said she told him several times before the alleged assault occurred and during she did not want to engage in sex, using the word “no.”
He also told her to remain silent, which she said she did out of fear because Bentz had a gun and she said Bentz told her he wanted to shoot someone, which was why he left the front door unlocked hoping someone would enter the house giving him the chance to fulfill his wish.
Bentz later told her to hide in a closet while his roommate and the girl’s sister searched for her. They later found her in a fetal position wearing only a tank top, the victim and police testified.
A toxicologist with 40 years experience at the Lucas County Coroner’s Office estimated the girl’s blood alcohol level was 0.12 percent to 0.19 percent, well above the legal limit to drive and putting her in a serious state of intoxication in which she would not be able to effectively defend herself.
During his opening statement, Kluge painted Bentz as the victim who the girl sought out for sex. He said she never told him she did not want to have sex and was the one looking to drink that night. Kluge also tried to paint her as a teenager fond of alcohol but she said she only drank a handful of times.
Kluge asked the girl numerous questions about whether she was attracted to Bentz or had a crush on him, which she said no.
“She goes over to the counter where Justin was standing and starts coming on to him,” Kluge said. “They were engaged in foreplay. There was no objection. She went with him voluntarily in the bedroom and she voluntarily engaged in sex … she wanted to have sex. She really wanted to have sex with Justin because she admired him so.”
Kluge said the word rape was not mentioned until after the girl left the home with her sister.
The nurse who conducted the sexual assault exam at the hospital testified the girl had blunt force trauma to her vaginal area. Bentz’ semen, confirmed through DNA, was found on her stomach, which her testimony gave matched.
The trial is before Judge David Cheney who is considering the case instead of a jury. It will resume Wednesday morning.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.