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PROVIDENCE â€” A North Smithfield man has been sentenced to a total of 40 years in prison, with 20 to serve and 20 suspended with probation, according to Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. In addition, the convicted man must undergo sex offender counseling, was ordered to have no contact with the victims, and must register as a sex offender.
Benjamin Vassar, 49, whose last known address was 216 Greene St., North Smithfield, pleaded guilty Thursday before Superior Court Associate Justice Netti C. Vogel to one count of first degree child molestation and three counts of second degree child molestation.
Upon release, under the Jessica Lundsford Act, which Vassar is subject to, any person convicted of first degree child molestation of a child less than 12 years of age shall be on community supervision for life, which includes electronic GPS monitoring for life.
Vassar was sentenced to 40 years, with 20 to serve on the one count of first degree child molestation, and 20 years, with 10 to serve on each of the three counts of second degree child molestation, all sentences to run concurrent.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the state was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Vassar molested two young children who lived upstairs from his apartment.
On March 3, 2011, while conducting a sex offender registration check on the defendant, the North Smithfield Police and the Sex Offender Law Enforcement Multi-Disciplinary Network (SOLEMN) federal task force were informed by neighbors that Vassar had molested their two young children on multiple occasions while they were being babysat by the defendantâ€™s mother. North Smithfield Police immediately arrested Vassar.
The children, a young boy and young girl, were brought to the Day Oneâ€™s Child Advocacy Center (CAC) to be interviewed, at which time the young boy disclosed numerous incidences of second degree child molestation and the young girl described an incident of first degree child molestation.
Kilmartin, who created a Child Abuse Unit within the Office in 2011 to prosecute all physical and sexual abuse of children, credited the work performed at the CAC in providing a safe environment for abused and molested children to tell their story.
â€śThe abuse of a child is among the most egregious of crimes. The safe and comfortable setting provided by the CAC reduces and minimizes the number of times a child has to tell the story and relive the trauma of abuse, and equally as important, helps this Office hold offenders accountable for their crimes against children,â€ť said Kilmartin.
Vassar has been held without bail since his arrest, and was sentenced to six years in violation of his probation on a 1999 second degree child molestation conviction, to which he served eight years of a 15 year sentence.
â€śThis defendant is a child predator, and we are thankful he is no longer in our community or in a position to hurt more young children. I commend the work of the Smithfield Police Department and the SOLEMN task force for their vigilance in performing sex offender registration checks, as it is that vigilance that got this predator out of our community and back behind bars,â€ť Kilmartin concluded.
Lt. Stephen Riccitelli and Detective Sharon Pagliarini of the North Smithfield Police led the investigation; Assistant Attorney General Mark Trovato prosecuted the case on behalf of the State.