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Judge rejects plea agreement in alleged child abuse case

March 31, 2020 GMT

WEST YORK, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania judge has rejected the guilty plea of a man accused of severely beating five of his seven young children after the defendant said in court that he “didn’t do anything.”

The York Daily Record reports that 73-year-old Charles Benjamin was scheduled to plead guilty Monday to aggravated assault and child endangerment in exchange for a sentence of 185 days to 23 months, which would have made him eligible for parole immediately.

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But asked by a prosecutor to describe his actions, he said “I didn’t do anything to the children” — and a York County judge then rejected the plea agreement.

Benjamin was arraigned in March 2019 after authorities alleged that he beat the children — who ranged in age from 2 to 6 — with items including a board, belt and curtain rod, inflicting injuries that left scars and required medical treatment. Authorities say a pair of infant twins were spared from the alleged abuse.

The children’s mother, 26-year-old Janay Fountain, earlier pleaded guilty to child endangerment in exchange for a sentence of 338 days to 23 months followed by five years’ probation. She said Benjamin was abusing the children and “I allowed it to happen, because I was frightened.”