Ex-TV reporter intends to plead guilty in child sex case
Former Global BC reporter Ron Bencze intends to plead guilty in his trial on child sex charges, according to court documents.
A preliminary hearing in the case was scheduled for sometime in January or February, but has been cancelled. The provincial court registry says Bencze is now scheduled to make his next appearance on June 12 with an intention to plead guilty.
The plea will not be official until then, and no conviction has been entered.
Bencze had previously pleaded not guilty to nine charges involving three children, but during a brief court appearance Monday, his lawyer said he plans to enter a new plea. He also asked for enough time for a sentencing hearing on the next court date.
"This case has been extremely difficult for everybody; the case wears on all as times moves on," Bencze's lawyer Eric Gottardi told reporters outside Surrey provincial court.
"He's been labouring under a presumption of innocence that hasn't always really been given effect for him and his family, so it's been very difficult. There's a potential it could come to a close at the next appearance date, but we'll have to see."
Bencze's alleged offences date back 10 years, and include charges of sexual assault, sexual interference with a person under the age of 14 and invitation to sexual touching. One set of offences allegedly began when the victim was just six years old.
Bencze also faces a single charge of breaching the conditions of his release from custody after he was allegedly spotted in an area frequented by children in October.
It is not clear yet which charge or charges he intends to plead guilty to.
The married father of three was fired from his job at Global BC in April 2011. He began working for the station in August 2004 and won accolades for his work on the Robert Pickton serial killer trial as well as a 2005 series on crystal meth.
Bencze started his nearly 20-year-long career in journalism in his hometown of Kamloops, where he produced and hosted a children's show.
He was an assistant coach for five years with the Surrey United Soccer Club. Since charges were laid early last year, Bencze has been removed from the club's website.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Julia Foy