Benton lived with his family on a farm in New South Wales for six years before they moved to the city. It was a lonely life for him on the farm. He didn’t get any affection from his parents, who’d both had pretty tough childhoods. Benton sees his Dad, who was away from home a lot, as ‘a wounded son’.
He was home schooled at first but then went to the small local school – one teacher for all 30 kids – from second class until fifth class. Benton was bullied and picked on by the older boys. ‘I remember distinctly eating blowflies, “Come on they’re crunchy. You’ve got to eat them”.’
When he was six years old, three of the bigger boys started to take Benton under one of the school buildings, strip off his clothes and make him ‘do stuff’. This went on for a year.
Because his family were so closed off and uncommunicative, he didn’t tell them about the abuse. They knew he wasn’t doing well academically, he had to repeat third class, but they didn’t ask if anything was wrong. However Benton’s sister, who was abused by the same three boys, can remember Benton screaming and never wanting to get out of the car when they arrived at school.
Benton’s family moved to the city and at the end of primary school, Benton started getting sexually active with other boys his own age and with a nine-year old cousin. ‘It was almost like I had a note on my forehead that said “you can do stuff”.’
Benton is certain that the abuse he suffered at primary school normalised this sexual behaviour. He kept doing badly at school until, after failing Year 10, he left to learn a trade. He got married and had children.
As he got older he fantasised about sex with younger boys but kept the urges under control. But at the age of 36 he started acting on those urges with his nephew. Then the abuse escalated. There were other victims, all 10 to 15-year-old boys. All of them were members of his own family.
One day, around seven years ago, it all opened up. After abusing a 15-year-old boy, a friend of his nephew, he urged his own victim to contact police. ‘I didn’t have the courage to do it myself.’ Benton waited for the police to contact him. ‘I had all the paper work, everything. Then I had a phone call, “We want to talk to you”. Well, I was ready.’
He made a full confession of all the child sexual abuse offences he had committed. He wanted police to know everything. ‘The only way this issue is ever going be dealt with, the only way of healing, because this type of crime can’t be seen on the outside, it has to be 100 per cent laid on the table.’
Benton was eventually charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and accessing child pornography. He pleaded guilty to all charges and is now serving out his sentence in jail.
He wanted his victims to understand that it was not their fault and that the healing process for them should now be able to start. He said about his life before and after he confessed to his crimes, ‘I had the best life but I couldn’t live with me. Today I have the worst life, but I can live with me.’
Benton says his biggest mistake when he was growing up was not asking for help. But in the 60s it was hard to find. ‘There was nowhere I could go to, to say “help’’. I was so struggling … I would cry myself to sleep because of what had happened. I was so destroyed from being that little kid.’
Benton also didn’t know where to turn when he wanted to stop abusing children himself.
‘I searched on the internet many times trying to find a place, “Help I’m a paedophile. Help, I don’t know what to do here”.’
Benton thinks that there should be an organisation with a 10-step program set up for paedophiles. ‘A program that has JIRT (Joint Investigation Response Team), that has solicitors, that has police, just like the drug courts.’
Benton is working on healing all his family relationships. He’s keen to do CUBIT, the sex offender treatment program, but has to wait until close to his release date before he can. Benton thinks a lot of time is wasted for people like him who want to address their problems immediately.
In the meantime he sends diary notes to CUBIT every fortnight. ‘I’m just knocking on their door like mad.’