ITHACA, N.Y. — An Ithaca man charged with sexually abusing two children for years was sentenced to five years in state prison on Thursday afternoon at the Tompkins County Court.
Ever Benites, 36, plead guilty to charges of first-degree course of sexual misconduct against a child and first-degree sexual abuse in November. The charges surfaced after it was discovered that Benites had been sexually abusing two children under the age of 10 for multiple years.
Benites had initially been out on bail set last December. But two days before his trial was set to begin in July, Benites fled, and was found in Texas, 25 miles from the border of Mexico. He took a bus there from Nashville, where he’d been working, and told the court he was being blackmailed by a cousin in Tennessee for an illegal drug sale.
Judge Joseph Cassidy said in court that the claim was “inconsistent and illogical.”
After Benites was extradited back to Ithaca, he plead guilty to the charges against him, and then accepted a deal which lowered his possible incarceration period. The sentencing on Thursday was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Diane Lama.
“Sometimes as prosecutors, we make offers that don’t match the magnitude of the crime,” Lama said. “This is one of those cases – (Benites) does not deserve five years… what he did is unquantifiable.”
She said prosecutors sometimes make such deals to spare the victims further public scrutiny, ensure a conviction and put an end to years of torment.
Family members filled the courtroom and sat in tense silence as the two women Benites abused as children gave their victim impact statements.
“The effect of this has lasted my entire life – it taught me that my body and my consent weren’t valuable,” the first victim said. “Today isn’t a celebration, but I know now that what happened was wrong.”
As the second victim prepared to give her testimony, the courtroom was met with a moment of deafening silence.
“The reason I came was because I was told it was for closure, to find peace… the truth is, I don’t think I’ll ever get closure for what happened to me,” she said. “I honestly don’t know how a human does this to someone so small – people like him should not be free.”
Benites’ Attorney Kevin Kelly declined to make statements afterward. Benites also decline to address the court.
Cassidy sentenced Benites to five years in jail for his crimes with a 20-year parole period.
Benites will also be required to register as a sex offender and will be banned from any contact with children under the age of 18. Orders of protection for both victims were also issued — one for 33 years and the other for 23 years.
“These two women were left to suffer the consequences of your crime,” Judge Cassidy said as he addressed Benites. “This is not something to be swept under the rug. These children should have been protected.”
Both Cassidy and Lama made statements indicating that they hoped the sentencing, and knowing that Benites described his crimes in detail, would put an end to any question of Benites’ innocence.
Lama said, “I hope that this finally puts to rest any questions and doubts anyone has about what Ever Benites did…”
If you or somebody you know has been a victim of a sexual crime or domestic abuse, please contact the The Advocacy Center website by clicking here. The 24-hour hotline can be reached at 607-277-5000.