MIAMI COUNTY — On Tuesday, in a letter from one of three child victims, a 13-year-old victim asked the court to send Benjie Van Winkle, 42, of Troy, to prison for life after she said he repeatedly “violated” and sexually assaulted her and two other minor victims over a period of three years.
Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeannine Pratt sentenced Van Winkle to serve 20 years to life in prison on three counts of first-degree felony rape. The first two counts of 10 years to life will run concurrently. Van Winkle’s third count of first-degree rape will run consecutively for a minimum of 20 years to life in prison. He will not be eligible for early release.
The three minor female victims were under the age of 13 at the time of the offenses.
A Victim Witness representative read a letter from the victim in court prior to sentencing.
Judge Pratt said Van Winkle’s actions were “the worst for this type of offense.” Pratt also noted his self-serving statements made in the pre-sentencing investigation, which he claimed his actions were made to “comfort” the victims.
“You exploited these children to the nth degree,” Pratt said. “I have a duty to protect children from people like you.”
Pratt also noted the 20-plus years of prison were necessary due to the “unusual” psychological and emotional harm the victims had suffered and her grave concern that Van Winkle would reoffend.
Van Winkle was also labeled as a Tier III sex offender for life.
Van Winkle pleaded guilty to the charges in a joint plea agreement with the state to drop 10 counts of a grand jury indictment.
According to law enforcement officials, the alleged sexual assaults occurred outside of Fletcher in Brown Township, in Troy, and as well as in Champaign County. According to reports, on Feb. 9, Van Winkle confessed to the allegations during the initial interview with authorities.
Melanie Yingst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews