Ex-Moccasin Bend Health Institute technician charged with sexual battery

Ex-Moccasin Bend Health Institute technician charged with sexual battery

August 12th, 2014 by Shelly Bradbury in Local Regional News

Marcus Dewayne Benford

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 sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas.