LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Even after an Avon man was offered the chance to take back his guilty plea and go to trial, he decided to go to prison quietly for sexually abusing an infant family member on August 1, 2005.
Matthew Bennett, 42, was sentenced to 15 years and 20 years of post-release supervision for Sex Abuse in the First Degree, a B felony, after Judge Robert Wiggins offered him the chance to withdraw his guilty plea and take the case to trial.
“In light of issues brought to light by [Public Defender Marcea Clark Tetamore], I indicated that I would allow you to withdraw your plea,” said Judge Wiggins. “You are declining that opportunity.”
An 8-year order of protection was also put in place in favor of the victim. Tetamore said that Bennett has not had contact with the victim in 10 years.
Tetamore said that she had serious concerns about the proposed sentence in this case in early October. She said that District Attorney Greg McCaffrey’s office was heavy handed with the sentence and took advantage of the vague language of sex crime law to threaten Bennett with an indictment for Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child, an A-II felony that carries with it a potential life sentence.
Specifically, Tetamore pointed out that her client was offered 15 years when another defendant, Richard Cassada, was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison for Rape in the Third Degree, an E felony.
McCaffrey said that the conduct and facts underpinning each of these cases varied widely, and both plea offers were designed to protect victims from the trauma of having to testify at Grand Jury or at trial.
Both McCaffrey and Tetamore said that part of their disagreement on Bennett’s sentence concerns the law itself, its language and sentence parameters.