Ex-TV reporter pleads guilty to sex assault charge
The former Global BC reporter charged with sexually assaulting a minor has pleaded guilty.
Forty-four-year-old Ron Bencze pleaded to the single count in Surrey provincial court Thursday, while eight other sex charges allegedly involving two separate minors are expected to be stayed.
The Crown said the assault Bencze pleaded to began when the victim was as young as nine years old, and continued for several years with offences including masturbation, oral sex and illicit text messages.
The case first came to the attention of Surrey RCMP in January 2011 after the victim’s mother discovered sexually explicit texts from Bencze, a father of three, on her 14-year-old son’s phone.
The Crown said the victim had asked the former TV and radio journalist several times to stop the abuse.
The teenager, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, submitted a victim’s impact statement that was read aloud in court Thursday.
“I feel that I have missed out on a childhood that was meant for me, not the tainted one I have experienced,” it read.
The Crown is recommending Bencze spend two to three years behind bars, while the defence is calling for a conditional sentence of 18 to 24 months with a possible probationary period up to three years.
The defence argued that Bencze, once a prominent and respected newsman, has already lost his job and is both remorseful and committed to rehabilitation. He’s also lost the ability to visit his children without supervision.
A lawyer for Bencze read a written statement from the former reporter in court.
“I don’t think there is anything I can say that would alleviate the anger and betrayal,” it read. “I’m sorry. I truly regret what I have done.”
The judge said he would reserve his judgment until after August 27.
Bencze previously pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him, but his lawyer indicated at a previous court appearance the plea would change.
Global BC fired Bencze from his post in April 2011, a few months after the allegations arose. The reporter started his nearly 20-year career in journalism in his hometown of Kamloops, where he produced and hosted a children’s show.
He was also an assistant coach for five years with a community soccer club.