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Citing COVID-19, attorney seeks release of man in abuse case

  • The Associated Press
(Jose F. Moreno/Philadelphia Inquirer)

ose F. Moreno/Philadelphia Inquirer

(Jose F. Moreno/Philadelphia Inquirer)

YORK, Pa. (AP) — The attorney for a Pennsylvania man accused of severely beating five of his seven young children is seeking his client’s release from prison, saying he contracted COVID-19 at the facility.

The York Dispatch reports that defense attorney Clarence Allen argues that 73-year-old Charles Benjamin “should be allowed to recover at home.” Allen said his client has risk factors including Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid issues.

Benjamin was to have gone on trial Monday, but the proceedings were postponed after his attorney said he was unable to speak with his client, who is in quarantine.

Authorities accused Benjamin in March 2019 of having beaten the children — who ranged in age from 2 to 6 — with items including a board, belt and curtain rod, inflicting injuries that left scars and required medical treatment. Authorities say a pair of infant twins were spared from the alleged abuse.

He was scheduled to plead guilty earlier this year to aggravated assault and child endangerment in exchange for a recommendation for a sentence of 185 days to 23 months, which amounted to time served. But a judge rejected his plea after he said in court that he “didn’t do anything.”

The children’s mother, 26-year-old Janay Fountain, earlier pleaded guilty to child endangerment in exchange for a sentence of 338 days to 23 months, which allowed her immediate release, followed by five years’ probation.

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