lberto Benitez, 42, was captured on Saturday after being on the run for 15 days. He was the subject of a massive manhunt. He allegedly impregnated his 10-year-old stepdaughter. The girl was discovered to be pregnant on April 21, when her mother brought her to a public health clinic, believing she had a tumor.
Benitez stated that he is innocent and was set-up by his girlfriend, the stepdaughter’s mother. Paraguay is a conservative, mostly Roman Catholic country. Abortion is a criminal offense except when the mother’s life is in danger. Benitez faces 15 years in prison if convicted of rape. Asserting his innocence, he said the following, according to Yahoo.
“I will do any [paternity] test to show it wasn’t me… I’ve been with tons of women, and I never got anybody pregnant.”
The unnamed girl’s mother is also under arrest because authorities believe she enabled her daughter’s abuse as well as helped Benitez flee from authorities, according to ABC News.
The girl’s pregnancy set off a debate about abortion in Paraguay. The girl is at a Red Cross Hospital at a special ward for pregnant adolescents, receiving medical and psychological care in Asuncion. Humanitarian groups argue that the girl’s 75-pound body cannot support the pregnancy and that her life is in danger. To the contrary, the government, courts, the Catholic Church, and other groups do not want the pregnancy terminated, especially at this late stage. Health Minister Antonio Barrios has stated the following, according to Channel News Asia.
“The pregnancy will not be interrupted. We’ve already completely ruled out abortion.”
Although Benitez was the subject of a manhunt, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, the sexual abuse of children is too common in Paraguay. UNICEF child protection officer Andrea Cid said the following, according to ABC News.
“In Paraguay, every day two girls between the ages of 10 and 14 give birth. These cases are a consequence of sexual abuse, and in most situations, repeated sexual abuse from which the victims have not received timely, appropriate protection… Adolescent girls are not receiving adequate attention. This is our concern and we hope that in light of this case effective measures will be taken to protect them from intra-family violence.”
In another horrific case of child abuse, A Utah mother, who killed six of her newborn babies, was sentenced up to life in prison. Megan Huntsman, 40, said that she was too addicted to methamphetamine throughout the decade that the children were born to care for more children during the 10-year period during which they were born. The judge on the case was so horrified by the killings that he hoped the case wouldn’t be assigned to him. Amazingly, Huntsman apparently managed to hide her half-dozen pregnancies, as well as the dead bodies, from her family and friends. Prosecutors indicated that the killings were cold and deliberate, according to an article in the Inquisitr.
[Photo By Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]