A Rogers County jury reached a guilty verdict for a musician on trial for the 2014 sexual assault of a woman at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa.
Scott Montgomery Bennett, 51, was at the Catoosa hotel in December 2014 to play a concert with The Joint, a band featuring Brian Wilson, best known for his role as a member of the Beach Boys. While there, he happened upon a heavily intoxicated woman in an elevator. He is captured on video surveillance taking the woman down a hallway--at some points appearing to carry her--and sexually assaulting her in the hallway before taking her on to his room.
The two emerge from his room approximately 35 minutes later, and video shows Bennett leaving the woman on the floor in the hallway of the seventh floor "like a sack of trash," according to an arrest affidavit.
The 21-year-old woman's friends began looking for her after she did not return to their group shortly after leaving, and found her lying disheveled in the hall where Bennett left her. They notified hotel security, who reviewed surveillance footage and uncovered the sexual assault. The woman could remember nothing about the incident and was informed by police that she had been assaulted.
According to prosecuting attorney Edith Singer, when police told the woman about the sexual assault, "all of the color drained from her face." The prosecutor said the officer tasked with telling the woman she had been assaulted likened her reaction to "a death notification."
Bennett maintained that nothing sexual occurred in his hotel room during the 35 minutes the two were in the room; however her underwear was discovered in his room, and his DNA was discovered on her body during a sexual assault exam. Bennett did admit to sexual contact with the woman in the hallway, as was evidenced in the video. He says that he touched her genitals with his hand and his mouth, but that the sexual activity was consensual.
Prosecutors and police disputed that the woman was capable of consent. In the arrest affidavit, a Catoosa police officer noted, "It is clear from watching the video that the victim is extreamly (sic) intoxicated and is unaware of her surroundings. The subject however appears to be in complete control of his faculties."
Under Oklahoma law, a person can be charged with first degree rape or rape by instrumentation for vaginal or anal penetration of a person who is "unconscious of the nature of the fact." While Bennett's attorney argued that he also was drunk at the time of the assault, the perpetrator's own intoxication is not considered to be a mitigating factor in a sexual assault case.
The jury returned guilty verdicts for one count each of rape by instrumentation and sexual battery. Jurors recommended a sentence of three years for rape and two years for rape by instrumentation. Both crimes are Level III sex offenses in Oklahoma, requiring lifetime sex offender registration.
While victims must be protected, it's also crucial to protect the rights of the accused. If you've been charged with a crime you didn't commit, it's imperative that you speak with an experienced Oklahoma City sexual assault attorney.
Image credit: Frank Boston