Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Allanah Benton-Wells was found guilty

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Richardson referred to the student as the “12-year-old boyfriend” of Allanah Benton-Wells, 43, at one time during her closing argument, and played a conversation allegedly between the two inadvertently recorded on an answering machine.

The student’s mother heard the recording on Oct. 31, 2007 and brought the accusations to light.

Richardson said the boy was hesitant to tell his mother about the alleged sexual conduct because he was protecting Benton-Wells.

“He did not want her in trouble,” said the Richardson. “He loved her, he cared for her and he thought she was a nice woman.”

Benton-Wells’ lawyer, Steven Freeman of Lansing, said the student was intimidated into saying he had sex with Benton-Wells by his mother.

“When (the student’s mother) heard that tape, in her mind she thought ‘Aha! Sex!’” he told the jury during closing arguments.

The attorney questioned whether investigators adequately looked into the case and whether the student’s story was credible. He said the student’s mother overreacted “through her ignorance” and screamed and yelled at the boy until he said he had sex with his teacher.

Benton-Wells was charged in August 2008 with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under the age of 13. The jury began deliberating at the end of the day Friday.

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