UPDATE: Bond set for teacher accused of rape
The teacher who admitted to having sex with a former student was in court on Friday.
Jason Benjamin was arrested on Thursday for having sex with a 17-year-old. The prosecuting attorney came out hard against him in the arraignment the next day.
“I'm sure we'll hear from the defense in a moment about his ties to the community, his lack of history,” said Michelle Agee, the deputy prosecuting attorney. “That's because he's supposed to be a pillar of the community.”
The county requested a $500,000 bond on Benjamin, saying he is a severe threat to the community who misused his power as a teacher.
“The allegations are very serious,” Agee said. “This is a person in a position of power, and he's supposed to be there for young people and to protect them not to abuse them.”
Benjamin was a math teacher at Robert Stuart Middle School before he was put on administrative leave Thursday. Before he transferred there he was a teacher and running coach at Canyon Ridge High School.
Court documents allege he taught the victim at the high school, but they didn’t begin their relationship until after he had transferred schools. He said he ran into her at her job in September of this year. She hugged him and later that day sent him a friend request on Facebook, which he accepted.
The two said they communicated on Facebook and in the messaging app. Benjamin said she sent him photos of herself in her underwear, but he said he didn’t ask for them.
When she told him she turns 18 next year, the court documents said he said he would turn 40. Benjamin also said he looked up her age on Facebook and knew she was 17.
She said he invited her over to his house after about a week of exchanging messages. Benjamin said they would watch Netflix, kiss and cuddle “until the last time.”
The last time they said they met up, they had sex.
The documents said earlier in the day the victim “sent a message to him that read something similar to ‘tonight’s the night’ or ‘I hope you are ready for this.’”
Benjamin and the victim both said they only had sex one time, but Benjamin said the victim had wanted to before, and he had turned her down.
After this one encounter the victim called things off. She said she messaged him on Facebook “telling him the relationship needed to be done,” according to court records.
Despite the prosecution asking for a higher bond, the judge ordered bond at $100,000, the amount the defense requested. The judge added a provision that Benjamin have no contact with minors that aren’t related to him.
Benjamin is scheduled to be back in court Jan. 5.
A Twin Falls School District employee accused of rape was arrested on Thursday.
In a press release the city of Twin Falls said Jason L. Benjamin, 39, was arrested for rape I.C. 18-6101(2), a statute that includes sexual relations with someone who is 16 or 17 when the accused is more than three years older.
The Twin Falls School District said that Benjamin was most recently a math teacher at Robert Stuart Middle School. The District placed him on administrative leave when they learned of the charges. They say that status will remain in place until the District completes its employment procedures.
The school district says it is unaware of any allegations of misconduct occurring on school property. They also say they will fully cooperate with the investigation.
Benjamin was also an assistant coach for the Canyon Ridge High School cross country team and track team from the 2009-10 season to the 2016-17 one. The School District said he had a contract to be an assistant track coach for this year.