Home confinement for woman who failed to report abuse

BY STACI WILSON

 

Linda Denniston

Linda Denniston

An Auburn Twp. woman that took no steps to protect three young women who were sexually assaulted over the course of 15 years by her live-in boyfriend was sentenced Thursday in the Susquehanna County Court of Common Pleas.

Linda Denniston, 58, will serve six to 18 months of home confinement on a county of endangering the welfare of children. Denniston received the home confinement sentence because of numerous medical issues that were outlined for the court by her attorney.

Denniston’s boyfriend, Joseph Benson, pleaded no contest in June to three counts of aggravated indecent assault of a person less the 16 years of age. He is scheduled to be sentenced in August. There is no admission of guilt in a “no contest” plea.

In addition to the home confinement sentence, Denniston must undergo a sexual offender assessment.

Joseph Benson

Joseph Benson

According to court documents filed in the case, the women had reported the abuse to Denniston, who is related to the victims. Investigators said Denniston never helped, nor reported the abuse but instead made the women lie if asked about the abuse.

The women, ages 23, 21 and 19 when the charges were filed in October 2013, said the sexual assaults began when they were about nine years of age and continued to present time. According to court documents, the sexual assaults began in 1998 and continued until 2013.

The Susquehanna County Independent does not identify the victims of sexual assault.

District Attorney Jason Legg said the victims wanted the case resolved without having to go to trial. He told the court that Denniston’s accepting responsibility for her actions was a “step forward.”

According to court documents, one victim came forward with the allegations of abuse because she found out others were also being assaulted by Benson.

After his arrest in October 2013, Benson admitted to police that he had committed a sexual assault but said he had never had sexual intercourse with the victims.

According to court documents, Benson said Denniston had confronted him about the assaults be he had denied her allegations at that time.

Others receiving sentences Thursday in the Susquehanna County Court of Common Pleas included:

Allen Michael Westbrook, 19, of Thompson, to 18 months probation, pay $300 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, not to possess firearms, receive a sexual offenders evaluation, not to have contact with the victim or the victim’s family, perform 25 hours of community service for Corruption of Minors in Thompson on June 21, 2013. Westbrook also received 1 year probation to run concurrent to the above sentence, pay $150 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $100 Act 198 fee, receive drug and alcohol counseling, not to possess controlled substances without a valid prescription, subject to random drug and alcohol screenings for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in New Milford Borough on April 13.

Kevin Lapage Weeks, 21, of Montrose, to 10 to 23-1/2 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay $200 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, not to possess transport or consume alcoholic beverages or controlled substances without a valid medical prescription, complete a sexual offenders assessment and participate in treatment as may be deemed necessary, not to have contact with the victim in this case, undergo a 10 p.m. curfew, not to possess firearms, not to have contact with anyone under the age of 18 without adult supervision for Terroristic Threats on May 14 in Forest City Borough.

Raymond Matthew Toman, 54, of Hallstead, to 15 months probation, probation may be transferred to Broome County, N.Y., pay $250 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay $100 Act 198 fee, not to possess transport or consume alcoholic beverages or controlled substances without a valid prescription, complete 50 hours community service, subject to random drug and alcohol screenings, not to have contact with anyone on supervision, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample for Possession with Intent to Deliver in Liberty Township on Sept.28, 2013.

James Theobald, 31, of Susquehanna, to 11-1/2-23-1/2 months in a state correctional facility followed by 2 years probation, pay $500 fine, pay cost of prosecution, subject to random drug and alcohol screenings, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay $100 Act 198 fee, not to have contact with anyone on supervision for Possession with Intent to Deliver in Oakland Borough on March 6, 2012. Theobald also received, 18 months to 36 months in a state correctional facility to run concurrent to the above sentence, pay $500 fine, pay cost of prosecution, subject to random drug and alcohol screenings, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, not to have contact with anyone on supervision for Contraband Possession of a Controlled Substance by Inmate on Feb. 8, 2014 in Bridgewater Twp.