November 2015

Lecturer jailed for sexual abuse of child

A RETIRED lecturer who did high profile work for the Prince’s Trust charity has been jailed for five years for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl almost 30 years ago.

Roger Benson’s child victim confronted him from the witness box at Bradford Crown Court yesterday, telling him: “I feel dirty, damaged, ashamed and rubbish.”

Benson, 77, of Victoria Mills, Salts Mill Road, Shipley pleaded guilty to five offences of indecent assault on three occasions in September 1986.

He was at that time a lecturer at Leeds Polytechnic and he went on to become operations director for the Prince’s Trust.

The vulnerable girl he molested, now married with children, read out a victim impact statement in open court as Benson sat in the dock.

He had labelled her “a malicious nutcase and a liar” when he was arrested last year and he did not confess his guilt until she gave evidence in his trial last month.

The woman said: “I feel dirty and damaged and guilty that I did not hit him to get him off me.”

She told how she suffered from depression and felt worthless.

Addressing Benson directly, she concluded: “Why did you? I’d never done anything to hurt you. I was a child. I’d done nothing wrong. Unlike you.”

Prosecutor David McGonigal said Benson, then of Summerhill Lane, Steeton, abused the girl in a bedroom at a house, putting his hand under the covers to molest her and making her touch him indecently.

She told a school friend and the police were alerted but Benson denied the allegations and was not prosecuted until 29 years later.

Judge Jonathan Rose said Benson’s denials had made the girl’s already dreadful abuse worse.

After Benson kissed her inappropriately, he waited to see if she would tell. When she didn’t, it gave him “the green light” to sexually assault her, the judge said.

“You violated her. It is disgusting. It is depraved,” Judge Rose said.

His victim wrote down her experiences in a diary and in short stories and when she gave evidence in court, the jury found her truthful.

Judge Rose said Benson had been involved in very important work with the Prince’s Trust.

He told him: “I wonder if that work would have continued a day longer if the trust, if the Prince of Wales, had known you were a paedophile?”

The judge ordered Benson to sign on the sex offenders’ register for life and he made a Sexual Harm Prevention Order banning him from ever having any contact with his victim.