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Frederick man convicted in Howard County child sex abuse case

Dean Lee Benner.
Dean Lee Benner. (Provided by Howard County police)

A Frederick man was convicted in Howard County Circuit Court last week on multiple counts of child sex abuse spanning a five-year period beginning in 1997.

Dean Lee Benner, 47, of the 5700 block of Brook Lane, was convicted on 21 counts of child abuse and sex offense occurring in three separate locations in the county involving a young boy from Baltimore city, according to State's Attorney spokesman Wayne Kirwan.

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A Howard County Circuit Court jury deliberated for four and half hours over two days before announcing the guilty verdicts last week. The deliberation capped an eight-day trial presided over by Judge William Tucker.

Benner will be sentenced on April 24.

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During opening statements, prosecutor Jennifer Ritter told the jury that Benner created "a boy's paradise" for the victim, his brothers and their friends that made the sexual assaults possible.

The victim, now 25, told Howard County police the incidents occurred at three locations -- Benner's home, which was in Elkridge at the time; his place of work, Quality Lab Products located in the 6600 block of Santa Barbara Road in Elkridge; and a barn on a friend's farm, located in the 5300 block of Kerger Road in Ellicott City.

Ritter said that Benner bought clothing and other gifts for the victim and the other boys, and also took them on outings to entertainment centers and the Ellicott City farm for horseback riding, Kirwan said.

Kirwan said the victim testified that Benner plied the boys with alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana. He testified that the first time he was assaulted was at age 9, and that Benner used alcohol to get him to pass out, Kirwan said.

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The victim also testified that Benner had several guns and threatened to kill him if he told anyone about the sexual abuse, Kirwan said.

Benner was arrested in 2013 after detectives from Howard County police were contacted in August by a family member of the victim.

Police said the victim reported approximately 200 incidents of sex abuse, and that Benner allegedly held him at gunpoint and knifepoint during the sex acts. Police said the victim told them Benner threatened to kill him if he refused.

Investigators were told the victim and his family trusted Benner and believed he was the uncle of a friend. The victim's parents allowed him to spend many weekends with Benner, police said. According to the charging documents, the victim said he stayed with Benner for "almost every weekend" from 1997 to 2003.

The victim said the assaults occurred in the after-hours in the office area of his workplace, in Benner's bedroom and in a room on top of the barn at the farm, according to the documents.

Following his arrest in 2013, police said officers served a search warrant at Benner's current residence and found nine guns, many of which were loaded; ammunition; two large hunting knives; and three swords.

Police also found an Instamatic camera that the victim claimed Benner used to take pictures of the boys, sometimes immediately prior to committing the alleged acts, according to the documents.

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