Failure to protect

Boyfriend in malnourished child case pleads guilty to one count

Updated: 2012-10-20T03:03:40Z

By MARK MORRIS

The Kansas City Star

The boyfriend of a woman accused of imprisoning her 10-year-old malnourished daughter in a closet pleaded guilty Friday to child endangerment and was sentenced to five years of probation.

Prosecutors charged Marcus R. Benson, 34, of Kansas City, in July after authorities found the girl in an apartment in the 1300 block of Highland Avenue. Police had been tipped off by a call to the Missouri child abuse hotline.

The girl weighed 32 pounds, less than half the average weight for her age.

Police later arrested the girl’s mother, Jacole Prince, and took her other two daughters into protective custody.

Benson, the father of Prince’s other daughters, told police that he hadn’t seen the girl, identified in court records as LP, in about a year and thought she lived somewhere else.

He said he would have stopped the abuse had he known about it.

Prosecutors argued in court records that Benson had regular contact with LP and knew about the abuse. Authorities also accused both Prince and Benson of “physically abusing (LP) by hitting her with their fists in her stomach, face, back and legs, which have left the marks, scars and bruises on (LP’s) body,” according to a court filing.

As part of Benson’s plea agreement a second child endangerment count was dismissed. Benson agreed to serve seven years in prison if he violates his probation. He cannot have contact with JD or other children under 17. He also must comply with the directions of Family Court and complete an approved parenting class.

Prince, 29, is charged with first-degree assault, abuse of a child and endangering the welfare of a child. At a hearing Friday, a judge set Prince’s trial for June 17, 2013.

To contact Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send email to mmorris@kcstar.com.

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