ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. – Cecil Lamar Benefield, 54, of Alpharetta, pleaded guilty on charges of sodomy in the first degree and sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years of age, in an Alabama court, Oct. 23. He was sentenced to imprisonment for 25 years and 20 years, respectively.
Benefield was charged with the crimes after a relative disclosed that he had molested her repeatedly, beginning when she was as young as 5 years old and continuing until she was 12. Benefield told the girl that if she reported the abuse, her father would kill him. Then her father would spend the rest of his life in prison and she would never be able to see him again.
An investigation located a number of other victims who had been abused by Benefield, dating back to 1987. Law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions were notified, and Benefield now faces charges in at least one other Alabama county for similar incidents involving another child under age 12.
“This child, by coming forward, started the process that led to these convictions,” said Deputy District Attorney Carol Griffith, who is assigned to prosecute cases involving crimes against children in Etowah County. “In doing so, she has prevented [Benefield] from victimizing another child. She showed real courage by coming to court to face her abuser.”
Griffith said that most people don’t get the opportunity to see that type of bravery and strength in a child, and that she is continually amazed by the children she deals with in her job.
In Alabama, the law does not allow for early release or parole for anyone convicted of a sexual offense involving a child under the age of 12.