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Benjamin Rand, 21, Sentenced for Enticing a Minor to Engage in Sex and Possession of Child Pornography

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Benjamin Rand, 21, Sentenced for Enticing a Minor to Engage in Sex and Possession of Child Pornography

Post  Gary Dee on Thu 5 Jul - 11:19





Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gilles, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Benjamin Rand, 21, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, was sentenced today on charges of using a computer to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2422(b), and possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2252(a)(4)(B). United States District Judge James I Cohn sentenced Rand to 20 years in prison to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release.

On November 1, 2011, Rand pleaded guilty to one count of using a computer to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity and one count of possession of child pornography. According to court documents, Rand would befriend underage girls, eventually convincing them to send sexually explicit pictures to his cell phone and then forcing them to do whatever he wanted in exchange for keeping the pictures private. In the case of one 14-year-old victim, Rand forced her to meet with him in his car for sex in exchange for him not posting her naked pictures to the Internet. During the investigation, Pembroke Pines Police Detectives found numerous sexually explicit images of minors on Rand’s cell phone, including images of the 14-year-old and others.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, the Pembroke Pines Police Department, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Steinberg and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Anitha Ibrahim of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.


http://www.justice.gov/usao/fls/PressReleases/120127-04.html



Last edited by Gary Dee on Thu 5 Jul - 11:20; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : small thing(s))

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'Sexting' and child porn victims testify against Pines man

Post  Gary Dee on Thu 5 Jul - 11:23

'Sexting' and child porn victims testify against Pines man

The girls said they were young and very naive when Benjamin Rand talked them into shooting nude photographs of themselves on their cellphones and texting them to him.

At first, Rand seemed like a cute puppy, federal prosecutors said, but once he had something to hold over them, he turned into the big, bad wolf.

The Pembroke Pines man, who was 19 at the time, used the photographs to coerce four girls, ages 11 to 16, into complying with his demands — for sex or more explicit images. If they didn't do what he wanted, he threatened he would post the photos online or tell their parents.

The case started out with so-called "sexting" – sending sexual messages or photos by mobile phone. But prosecutor Corey Steinberg said Rand was a sexual predator who hunted down vulnerable girls, gained their trust and exploited them. The text messages were not youthful indiscretion, they were child pornography, she said.

The consequences for the girls have been devastating.

Some testified on Friday that they had attempted suicide or harmed themselves because of what happened. Two of the girls said he sexually attacked them. The youngest victim said he got access to her while he was dating her slightly older sister and abused both of them.

Rand pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and using a computer to entice a child into sexual activity. He was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison under the terms of a plea agreement he reached with prosecutors just after his trial started in November.

But U.S. District Judge James Cohn added a bundle of other conditions to Rand's sentence, saying they were necessary to protect the community from Rand, who previously served 17 months in the state juvenile system for similar crimes.

Within hours of being released from juvenile detention, where he received sex offender treatment, prosecutors said he resumed sending inappropriate texts to the 14-year-old victim who was also a victim in the earlier case.

When Rand is eventually released from prison, the judge ordered that he must register as a sex offender and be supervised by federal authorities for the rest of his life.

Federal officials are authorized to go through his phone records for the rest of his life. He is barred from having contact with children, and his access to computers will be restricted, among other conditions that could land him back in prison if he doesn't comply.

"What makes this case so egregious is that he did time in a juvenile facility for doing the same acts," the judge said in court.

The four girls all testified in court Friday — or had their parents speak for them — about what Rand did and how it affected them. The girls said they have struggled with low self-esteem because Rand bullied them, told them they were worthless and harassed them on a daily basis. The Sun Sentinel is not identifying them because of their ages and the nature of the crimes.

The 16-year-old girl, who had dated Rand and said he secretly taped them having sex, said she immediately contemplated suicide when she found naked photos of her 11-year-old sister on his phone and realized that she was not his only victim. She attempted to kill herself but said she now wants to live.

"He doesn't deserve another chance," she told the judge. "He's going to do it again."

The 11-year-old girl testified that Rand is "the darkest kind of human on the planet" and repeatedly took advantage of her.

"Every day for several months, he told me that I was worthless," she said. "He made me shameful of things he made me do."

According to court records, Rand raped the 14-year-old girl in his car, then forced her out of the vehicle and shouted: "Have fun with my baby, b----."

Some of the girls' parents said they felt that they had let their children down because they hadn't realized what was happening.

"As a mother, I feel like I failed [them] because I didn't see it coming," said the mother of the two sisters who were victims.

Some of Rand's family and friends, who wrote letters or spoke on his behalf, minimized his conduct and tried to shift some of the blame to the girls.

His mother, Merrill Rand, talking so much about how the state juvenile system failed to get him treatment that the judge eventually asked her why she hadn't done more to help him after he was released.

"I'm not blaming you, but you were saying why didn't this person do something ... you're the parent," Cohn said to her.

She said her son had been depressed and wouldn't go to therapy.

Rand, now 21, apologized to the victims and their families just before he was sentenced.

"If I could apologize for everything that I've done, I wish it could be enough," said Rand, who was handcuffed, shackled and wore beige prison scrubs and a red yarmulke.

"I cry every night in my cell," Rand said. "I never meant to hurt anyone."

Rand said he needs treatment but also tried to shift blame to at least one of the girls and criticized the sex offender therapy he got in prison.

Prosecutors filed court records stating that they found dozens more pornographic images on his phone, including many photos of other underage girls, some of whom were never identified. Also found on the phone were video clips of a girl, who appeared to be about 6 years old, playing on an arcade ride. The clips focused on the child's underwear, according to testimony.

Rand met most of the girls through friends and family, though he also met one of them on a popular social networking site.

Rand's lawyer, Christopher Grillo, said he is considering appealing the severity of the total sentence imposed by the judge.


http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-01-27/news/fl-sexting-photos-benjamin-rand-20120127_1_child-into-sexual-activity-pines-man-sexting

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