Child sex offender to spend two years behind bars after he preyed on wife’s Whitby daycare clients

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Published August 24, 2022 at 2:26 pm

A man from Whitby will spend the next two years behind bars after his conviction for preying on the children who attended his wife’s home day care while he was banned from being around kids for a prior conviction.

Back in November 2007, Christopher Benson was convicted of 20 counts connected to sexual assault against girls as young as 11 and women. Benson spent much of the following year in prison, but was released in 2008.

While released, Benson remained subject to a 10-year ban from daycares among other restrictions. “These terms were intended to prevent him from having access to children or adolescents in order to protect them from him,” reads the published reasons for Benson’s sentence.

This order expired in November 2018. During the decade in between, Benson’s wife Crystal started an at-home daycare, which under the ban Benson could not attend, but he eventually breached the order.

During these breaches, Benson had allegedly exposed himself to a four-year old child at the daycare. In addition to charges of breaching conditions he was charged with exposing himself to a minor, sexual interference and making sexually explicit material available to a minor.

He was only convicted of the latter charge and acquitted of the earlier two. Breaking his court order carries a maximum sentence of two years, while making material available carries a maximum of 18 months.

Durham Regional Police, in an unrelated investigation, first learned about the daycare in 2012.

DRPS informed the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) which held a meeting with Crystal Benson in June 2012 where she told them she would close the daycare. Crystal reopened the daycare that September. At the time she told CAS Christopher Benson was no longer allowed in the family home.

CAS instructed Crystal that she had to provide a list of clients and to ensure Benson did not attend the daycare. She “covertly” reopened the daycare at her home, where her own two children lived, until June 2019.

“She did not notify CAS or provide them with a list of her clients. She never notified any parent, who trusted her and placed their vulnerable children in her care, of her husband’s prior convictions or his court order not to attend a daycare,” read the sentencing decision.

“Mr. Benson cannot be faulted for his wife’s misconduct. He was, however, well aware of and complicit in his wife’s duplicity. He was a party to her choice to breach the trust of every parent who entrusted a child to her care,” the decision continued. “More importantly, he chose to assume the role of a caregiver for the children entrusted to the care of his wife whenever she left the house.”

He was later brought up on charges of breaching the ban order between February 26 and August 13, 2018, right at the end of his court order. It was during this time that a four-year old victim attended the daycare. This child was the oldest among the toddlers who attended.

A DRPS media release about the ensuing investigation led to 30 calls from concerned parents.

During the trial the victim’s mother said there were two occasions where Christopher Benson was alone with her child. The first occasion was before Benson’s daycare ban expired, the second came after the expiry.

Another mother of a different child testified that Benson spent between a week and a half to two weeks at the daycare home while he recovered from an injury to his leg. His ban was in effect at this time.

Additionally, Christopher Benson would remain at the home alone with the children while Crystal took the couple’s daughter to dance classes.

“The only rational explanation,” the Justice Brenda Green said in her decision, “was that they both knew, at that time, that he was not supposed to attend places where children were known to frequent.”

“Instead, he chose to remain inside their home, in a daycare with little children, where the breaches of his court order could not be so easily detected, and the children were completely vulnerable.”

A third mother shared that she, while unaware of Benson’s prior conviction, gave permission to leave her kids in his care alone on brief occasions, between two and 20 minutes. A fourth parent corroborated this.

One of the couple whose child attended the Benson’s daycare became friends with both Crystal and Christopher.

During these occasions when Benson and the victim were alone together, he showed the girl a sexually explicit video, “He purposefully showed [the victim] this sexually explicit material as the next step in the process of grooming her for future sexual offences,” Green concluded.

“An important additional aggravating fact is that Mr. Benson was not only actively involved in his wife’s duplicity, he and his wife befriended one of the couples whose children attended the daycare. Once again, that was a choice that he made to betray his friends,” Green wrote.

Benson confessed to breaching his conditions during this five month period, but as a trial wore on evidence emerged that he had been “breaching this court order far more frequently and for many years.”

“These breaches were not isolated or even unusual occurrences,” the decision reads. “The breaches in 2018 were the culmination of a longstanding, flagrant, and deliberate lack of regard for an important court order intended to protect innocent children from Mr. Benson.”

If Green decided to make each sentence consecutive, Benson would spend the next 3 and a half year behind bars. However, counsel advised that Benson had “diligently” completed counselling after his previous conviction. They argued a probation term would allow Benson to better reintegrate into society, and allow protection orders for the victim.

Green ultimately sentenced Benson to two years in prison, three years of probation and a 17 year ban from attending areas with children. He will remain a registered sex offender for life.

“There is no period of incarceration that will be considered sufficient for the victims to redress the seemingly endless worry and suffering that Mr. Benson caused to blameless parents who entrusted their children to his wife’s care.”

 

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