A South Carolina court clerk said Monday it could be up to a year before Justin Teeter Bensing goes to trial. That’s something some Myrtle Beach residents may be alarmed to hear.
When Bensing was released on bail last month, people in his South Carolina community, and beyond, were worried. Police say Bensing is a child sexual predator who, in addition to wanting to kidnap a young girl and use her as a sex slave, also wanted to eat her, as in cannibalize.
Cautionary social media shares, posts, and even video warnings have been circulating since the 36-year-old Myrtle Beach man was bonded out by his father. But besides concern and fear, people are asking how a judge could allow Bensing released, and without any conditions. Bensing was charged by the Greenville South Carolina Sheriff’s Office as part of a sexual predator and human sex trafficking sting that netted 45 people with cops eyeing another 31 soon to be charged.
A forthcoming woman in the judicial clerk’s office told a reporter, “I’m a little surprised ..but I’m not a judge,” when asked about the lack of bond restrictions including a GPS monitoring device or similar, as an option. There are no upcoming court dates listed on the records.
According to available court records, the assigned judge is Darrell Scott Fisher though it isn’t clear if he is the judge that ordered a $20,000 bond. Bensing’s father posted $10,000 cash bond and a $10,000 surety bond to get his son out of jail, court records show. Bensing was charged with two counts of criminal solicitation of a minor.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis Described Bensing as ‘Beyond the Worst Type of Human Being You Can Imagine’
In a press conference on Facebook, Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis said that Bensing, who thought he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl but was in fact talking with an undercover officer, planned to “kidnap the child and take her back to Myrtle Beach and sell her,” and worse.
Lewis said that Bensing wanted a child “that he could eat, physically cannibalize.” Lewis said Bensing was also planning bestial sex as well as sex with the girl.
”Depravity doesn’t even describe it this is beyond the worst type of human being you can imagine …kidnapping, sexually assaulting, trafficking, killing, and eating.”
The charges against Bensing found in the warrant are based on information collected by undercover officers communicating with him and what was found on his phone. Bensing traveled from Myrtle Beach, the ‘Low Country’ of South Carolina to ‘Upstate’ Greenville, a four-hour drive, to come get the girl he believed he’d been talking to. Police said Bensing planned to turn the girl into a sex slave.
In the Facebook press conference, which runs more than 30 minutes, Lewis begins discussing Bensing at around the 12-minute mark.
2. Bensing Was Arrested & Charged as Part of ‘Operation Millstone’
Beginning in February, a multi-agency task force dubbed ‘Operation Millstone,’ a Biblical reference to punishment of people who hurt children, was created to “take down Internet predators looking to engage in sex with young children, as well as reveal any potential human trafficking activity through the arrests of these predators …” Sheriff Lewis said in a Facebook press conference.
The task force sting operation, a la ‘To Catch a Predator,’ which included members of the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Department, the Greer Police Department, other Greenville-area law enforcement and the South Carolina Attorney General’s office, netted 45 people. Of those charged were a husband and wife human sex trafficking team, 14 child sexual predators and a number of prostitutes and johns, the sheriff said. Some of the prostitutes, he said, were previously victims of human trafficking and at least one was turned over to an agency that rescues victims.
Greer Police Chief Matt Hamby said, and Lewis agreed, that their neck of the woods, and South Carolina specifically, is among the worst in the nation for human sex trafficking. But Lewis said in the press conference posted to Facebook, that his department needs more money to bring sexual predators and sex traffickers to justice.
“I want them out there coast to coast,” Lewis said referring to naming and sharing pictures of those charged. “I want everybody to know what’s happening. Every child is a potential victim with someone like this in their community.”
And it’s that realization that has people in Myrtle Beach concerned.
“They’re still out there,” Lewis said. “They’re still looking for your children.”
In the video produced by the GCSO describing ‘Operation Millstone,’ the references to Bensing begin at the 2-minute mark.
3. Bensing Was Bailed Out by His Father, but There Were no Bond Conditions Set by the Judge, Records Show & a Court Clerk Confirmed
Court records from the 13th Judicial Circuit of Greenville show that Bensing was arrested Feb. 12, and bond was set Feb. 14, $10,000 for each charge of criminal solicitation of a minor for a total of $20,000. The records show that surety bond was posted Feb. 14 of $10,000 but that the cash bond of $10,000 was not posted until March 13. Bensing was released from jail Feb. 14 with no conditions, a clerk at the 13th Judicial Circuit confirmed for Heavy adding she was “surprised” that none had been added, “But I’m not a judge.” She also said that it’s unlikely the case would be tried before the year is out based on the number of cases in the court, 16,000 a year, she said.
Bensing lives on Thornbury Drive in the Market Common district of Myrtle Beach. A popular tourism destination beginning at the turn of the 20th century, Myrtle Beach is home to 30,000 permanent residents and draws around 18 million tourists a year.
Bensing’s father Donald posted his son’s bond. The Associated Press contacted the senior Bensing about his son following his release from jail and the father denied his son was a cannibal in call with reporter Meg Kinnard who herself tweeted it was an uncomfortable call.
Bensing was quoted by Kinnard as saying, “The only thing I have to say on Justin’s behalf is that any charges of cannibalism are not correct,” before hanging up. He did not reference the accusations that his son was, as police charge, a child sexual predator.
4. Reaction to Bensing’s Release Was a Combination of Incredulity & Fear
From a former neighbor to the Facebook group Myrtle Beach Moms for Moms, to former residents and everyday folks, comments, posts, shares, videos and protests, people were stunned Bensing was freed and without bail conditions.
One commenter on the Fox Carolina News Facebook page, the most ‘liked’ and shared comment said: “If he really kills a child while out on bail then the judge needs to go to jail for allowing him to do it. If judges had to suffer for their actions they might not be as lenient!”
A YouTuber named Jamie Dlux, a Market Common resident and former neighbor, posted a video with Bensing’s house in the background. (The video contains graphic language.)
And a litany of tweets and Facebook posts have followed from outraged South Carolinian’s and others.
5. Bensing, Who Used an Alias, Was Also Interested in Coprophilia, Police Said
Bensing, who appears to have no criminal record, at least available through an internet search, faces two charges of criminal solicitation of a minor, each charge, should he be convicted, carries a maximum prison of up to 10 years on each.
Bensing used the alias ‘Rebel Deese’ online, police said.
Besides cannibalism, according to the warrants obtained by Heavy, Bensing also has an interest in coprophilia, which University of California, Santa Barbara students “who have studied advanced topics in human sexuality” define: “Coprophilia, also known as scatophilia or scat, is a type of sexual pleasure associated with feces. Coprophiliacs enjoy either watching people defecate or defecating on someone themselves.”
Police documents show Bensing wanted the girl to “drink her own urine,” which may or may not be connected with his reported interest in coprophilia.