Former Global TV reporter Ron Bencze has pleaded guilty to one count of sexually assaulting a minor.
The judge reserved his decision on sentencing until after Aug. 27, saying he needed more time to review the case before making a decision that would have serious repercussions.
“The court faces a difficult balancing act in determining an appropriate sentence – taking into account the need to denounce this type of behaviour [and] at the same time take into account the possibility of rehabilitation for an accused person,” said Crown spokesperson Neil MacKenzie.
Mr. Bencze, 45, had been charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching. The alleged incidents occurred over about eleven years – from 2001 to last year – and involved three minors. Last year, Mr. Bencze pleaded not guilty to all nine charges.
In exchange for Thursday’s guilty plea, Crown counsel stayed the remaining eight charges.
“The charge that he’s pleaded guilty to represents the most significant allegations that were made against Mr. Bencze,” Mr. MacKenzie said.
The court heard that the sexual assault spanned about seven years and started when the boy was seven or eight years old. Mr. Bencze engaged in masturbation as well as oral and manual sex with the boy at Mr. Bencze’s house in Surrey. When the boy was 14, his mother discovered explicit text messages on his cellphone between him and Mr. Bencze.
A publication ban protects the victim’s identity, but his victim impact statement was read aloud in court. The teen said he finds it difficult to trust himself and others in certain situations and that he had a tainted childhood.
The Crown recommended between two and three years in prison and adding Mr. Bencze’s name to the sex offender registry. Defence counsel is seeking a conditional sentence of 18 to 24 months.
Mr. Bencze had worked for Global TV since 2004. Before joining the network, he was a crime reporter for radio News 1130. The reporter left Global TV last year, shortly after his arrest.
In court, his lawyer argued a long jail term would prevent him from being able to support his family, which is already hard since he can not secure employment and has had to start his own software and technology company.
His lawyer read an apology from his client. “I’m not asking for forgiveness,” read Mr. Bencze’s statement. “I will work hard to redeem myself and try to regain the trust I have squandered.”
With a report from The Canadian Press