published Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Ex-Moccasin Bend Health Institute technician charged with sexual battery

A former Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute technician is being held on a $25,000 bond on charges of sexual battery by an authority figure after a female patient told police she had sex with him.

Marcus Dewayne Benford, 38, turned himself in to Chattanooga police on Saturday night after a grand jury returned an indictment in late July.

The patient said the pair had sex on April 21, 2013, and she reported the assault to police the next day. Benford was suspended after the report and fired on May 13, 2013, said Mike Machak, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

This incident is not the first time Benford has been arrested. In fact, he's been booked multiple times since 1999 for charges ranging from possession of a controlled substance to tampering with evidence. In late 2012, he was charged with patronizing prostitution, although the charge was dismissed.

Machak did not comment specifically on Benford's hiring, but said that all employees undergo a rigorous pre-employment background check.

"The [department] has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the safety and security of the individuals in our care," he said.

Although the incident happened in 2013, the grand jury in the 11th Judicial District in Hamilton County just returned the indictment on July 31, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

It's not unusual for a case to take that long to get in front of a grand jury, TBI spokeswoman Susan Niland said.

"It did take some time to collect the evidence, conduct interviews and complete the investigation," she said. "And then the case was put together to present to the grand jury."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or with tips or story ideas.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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