Cooperstown man accused of several sex assaults on girl

From staff reports

A Cooperstown man is facing numerous charges for engaging in a sexual relationship with a girl who was under 16.

Franklin state police said in a criminal complaint that Benjamin Haight, 31, told troopers he worked night shifts and while he was at work the girl, who was his neighbor, sent him several unsolicited nude photos of herself and he said he felt trapped because he knew the photos were stored in a communication hub somewhere.

Haight asked the girl to send additional inappropriate photos and she did on several occasions over the next few months, the complaint said.

Haight told police the same night she sent him the unsolicited photos she “begged” him to come to pick her up when he was done with work, which he did and they had sex, the complaint said.

Over the course of the next two or three months, between June and August this year, Haight and the girl engaged in sex on three or four occasions before they ended the relationship, the complaint said.

Haight told police he was very fearful the girl would tell someone what they had been doing and so on Sept. 17 he confessed what had happened to his wife, who kicked him out of the house, the complaint said.

While he was driving to his brother’s house his wife called him and told him the girl’s father was looking for him and state police had been notified, the complaint said.

Haight said he didn’t know what to do until he saw the Titusville police station and turned himself in, the complaint said. Titusville police then contacted Franklin state police, who interviewed both Haight and the girl, the complaint said.

Haight told police he didn’t expect any leniency from them and knew what he did was against the law, the complaint said.

The girl said she would cooperate with the investigation and knew she was a victim under the law, the complaint said. The girl’s account of what she and Haight had done was similar to his account of what happened and she said he picked her up by “mutual agreement,” the complaint said.

She also told police “she was never forced to do these acts” and she “knew what she was doing with the suspect could get the suspect into trouble,” the complaint said.

Haight has been charged with four felony counts of statutory sexual assault — 11 years older, five felony counts each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault — complainant less than 16 years of age, child pornography, and unlawful contact with a minor- sexual offenses, one felony count of corruption of minors-defendant age 18 or above, and five misdemeanor counts of indecent assault person less than 16.

Haight was arraigned Wednesday and placed in the Venango County jail after being unable to post bail.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in Central Court.