August 2019

Richmond man who was sexually assaulted by former Cadet Officer speaks out

A man from the Richmond who was sexually assaulted as a child by an army cadet officer shares his story and is urging abused victims to come forward.

The victim – who cannot be named for legal reasons, experienced a breakdown, ten years after his ordeal which prompted him to tell his parents who contacted the police.

However, the victim’s case was reviewed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who decided not to prosecute.

The man said: “I found it incredibly difficult to come to terms with what I had been through and only managed to have the courage to speak to my parents about it.

“It was then devastating however to get the news that the CPS would not be taking the case forward and I struggled to talk about the abuse for a long time afterwards.”

Stuart Stefano Benedetti began abusing the man – who was a teenager at the time, during a weekend camping trip in the early 2000s.

Benedetti eventually subjected the victim to several more sexual assaults.

In 2016, a second victim went to the police to report being sexually abused by Benedetti which ultimately led to the Cadet Officer being charged with sexual offences.

Anna Pask, the victim’s Associate Solicitor said: “This is sadly yet another case in which someone has abused their position of power in the worst way imaginable.

“It can be incredibly difficult for abuse survivors to speak out about their ordeals’, but our client has shown amazing courage to come forward and share his story.

“He remains very concerned that others may have been affected by similar issues and we would urge anyone who may have been to not suffer in silence.”

Benedetti was jailed for 15 years in January 2017, after being found guilty at Kingston Crown Court.

The victim – now in his thirties received support from law firm, Irwin Mitchell who provided expert abuse lawyers and specialist aftercare support to help the victim overcome his traumatic experience.

Ms Pask added: “There has been a huge sea change in how such issues are now handled and people can rest assured that authorities will always handle their cases in the most sensitive manner.”

“Getting the news that someone else had come forward changed everything and it was massive to know that I was not alone in terms of what had happened.

The legal firm also secured the victim with an admission of liability as well as an interim payment from the Ministry of Defence – which the victim used to access specialist therapy.

The man [victim] continued: “While it was welcome to see the conviction, I still feel there are others who might have suffered and have not yet had the courage to come forward.

“I like to think that my story highlights that people who have faced abuse have nothing to fear from speaking out and I would urge anyone affected to talk to someone as soon as possible.”