Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Child PornographyMegan Reardon
Posted by: MReardon
Date: Nov 18 2023 10:10 PM
OKALOOSA COUNTY, FLORIDA: Harold Lavern Benedict, age 71 of Crestview, was sentenced to 19.5 years in federal prison for receipt and attempted receipt of child pornography.
In imposing the sentence, the court cited the need to protect the public when it sentences Benedict above the required 15-year mandatory minimum. The sentence was announced by Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
"Protecting innocent children from sexual predators remains one of our highest priorities, said U.S. Attorney Coody. "I commend our law enforcement partners and prosecutors who work tirelessly to identify these predators and bring them justice so that they may never exploit a child again. Due to their collective efforts, our community is safer, and this repeat offender is exact where he belongs--back behind bars."
On June 27, 2022, a father was at Yellow River Park with his children in Milligan, Florida when he purchased gasoline for an older man who was stranded. The older man requested the father’s address and phone number to send him money, and when the father declined, the older man who claimed to refurbish computers for a living offered the father a laptop for his children.
Upon arriving home, the father vetted the computer prior to giving it to his children only to discover it had child pornography.
The father immediately contacted Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and provided the laptop. Through the investigation, law enforcement was able to link a phone number provided by the older man, Benedict. He was also a local registered sex offender due to prior convictions for attempted sexual battery on a child under the age of 12 and Lewd and Lascivious Act.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office investigators interviewed Benedict on September 2, 2022, and he admitted to using foreign internet web browsers to obtain child pornography at least once per month. Law enforcement obtained search warrants for several of his electronic devices and determined that he possessed over 700 images of child pornography from at least 2019 though 2023.
Benedict’s prison sentence will be followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He will continue to be required to register as a sex offender and be subject to all sex offender conditions.