The following is a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri on Monday, August 22, 2022.
ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey on Monday sentenced a former high school security guard who recorded his repeated sexually abuse of a child it to 25 years in prison.
Mark A. Bennett’s victim was less than 10 years old when he began abusing her and filming it, he admitted in a guilty plea in March. It went on for years, until his attempt to download child pornography triggered a Dec. 12, 2019 tip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and an investigation by the FBI and the St. Louis County Police Department.
After a search of Bennett’s home and electronic devices, investigators found 589 pictures of videos of the girl’s abuse, as well as 1,500 files containing child sexual abuse material, his plea says.
Bennett, 48, pleaded guilty to a charge of production of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Bennett worked at McCluer North High School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, but did not meet the victim through his job.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jillian Anderson prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and