Plea Deal Rejected In Child Porn Case That Could Net 300+ Year Sentence

A Sierra Vista man arrested in April for the online transfer of images depicting the sexual abuse of toddlers and preschoolers has been ordered to stand trial later this year on 25 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after he rejected a plea deal offered by the Cochise County Attorney’s Office last month.

Benjamin Calvert Price now faces 341 years in prison if convicted of all 25 counts related to child pornography as well as four unrelated felonies. The plea deal he rejected June 22 would have resolved the case without a trial and guarantee Price would serve no more than 15 years in prison, followed by lifetime probation.

As a result, Price will have the case decided at a five-day jury trial set to start Dec. 1, according to Judge Timothy Dickerson of the Cochise County Superior Court.

Court records show Price came under investigation in March when the Sierra Vista Police Department received a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The tip provided information about illicit images uploaded to the KiK social networking app.

Among the images SVPD detectives traced to Price’s KiK app account is one described as a video depicting a child between the age of two to four lying on a bed while an adult male attempted to engage in anal intercourse. At least one other video shows a naked, masturbating adult male who touches his penis on the child.

Read more by Terri Jo Neff >>

Price, 36, was arrested in April and indicted on five Class 2 felonies for possessing or exchanging visual files which depicted children engaged in sexual conduct or exploitive exhibition. The indictment also included two low level felonies for possession of methamphetamine and marijuana and one count of promoting prison contraband for Price’s failure to tell jail officials he had an item concealed in his anus.

Then on June 11, prosecutor Dan Akers went back to the county grand jury to secure a supervening indictment which added one more felony drug charge to the case and 20 new counts related to additional images of child pornography found on a thumb drive in Price’s possession.

Price remains in the Cochise County jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. His public defender argued last month for Price to be released on his own recognizance or to a third-party on the basis of medical reasons, but Dickerson denied the motion at a June 17 hearing. The judge also denied a request to reduce the amount of Price’s bail.