71 year-old Charles Benjamin appearing in court Wednesday afternoon, facing a multitude of charges including five counts each of aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person, in addition to false imprisonment charges.
“Things are not like they appeared to be. And this is just the beginning and we have not investigated a lot of contradiction and a lot of misstatements in this case, and that’s what we’ve got to do,” said Clarence Allen, Benjamin's attorney.
Benjamin is charged with child abuse of his five young children, ranging in age from two to six.
He also has a set of infant twins that appeared to be unharmed.
The prosecution brought three witnesses to the stand during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing, including an emergency case work who initially responded to the West Market Street home in early February, the forensic nurse who examined the children, and the lead officer on the case.
The testimony revealed the five older children suffered from bruises to most of their bodies, abrasions, and other injuries.
The two oldest children reportedly said their injuries came from fighting with each other, but later said their dad did it.
The children’s mother, 25 year-old Janay Fountain, told officials Benjamin hit the kids with a board, belts, and a curtain rod, and a physician who specializes in child abuse confirmed in a report that the injuries are consistent with physical abuse.
It was also revealed in the testimony that Benjamin allegedly held the five and six year-olds under water in the bathtub.
Both Fountain and the kids also reportedly told investigators Benjamin would lock them in their rooms all day long, sometimes without food or access to the bathroom, and tie the door shut with a bungee cord.
The witnesses say Fountain told them she did not intervene because she was afraid Benjamin would turn on her.
The defense argued that much of the testimony heard in the preliminary is hearsay, coming from young children, and that there is contradiction in their stories, adding Fountain could also be responsible for their injuries.
Benjamin has no prior criminal history, something his attorney doesn’t want people to forget.
“I just want you to be aware that there is nothing to indicate this type of behavior from Mr. Benjamin. Nothing at all,” said Allen.
Benjamin was also joined in the courtroom by five adult daughters there to support their father- another thing his attorney wants the public to take notice of.
“As you can see, he’s raised five beautiful daughters who are professional, successful. He’s innocent until proven guilty,” said Allen.
Fountain is also facing a number of charges related to the alleged abuse.
She appeared in court through video today, and will have her formal arraignment next month.
Benjamin remains free on bail until his formal arraignment.
The date for that has not yet been announced.