Exclusive: Teen who says she was sexually abused by physician assistant speaks out

Chanteé Lans Image
Friday, October 7, 2022
Exclusive: Teen says she was sexually abused by physician assistant
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Chantee Lans has the exclusive interivew with a teen who says she was sexually abused by a physician assistant.

BAY SHORE, Long Island (WABC) -- A young woman who said she was sexually abused by a physician assistant on Long Island is speaking out to protect other potential victims.

She is outraged after prosecutors told her he will not go to prison as part of a plea deal.

The teen said a physician assistant took advantage of her and then offered her money to stay quiet.

It was inside a pediatrician's office in Bay Shore where at least two sexual assault victims, all minors, first met 50-year-old Richard Bennet of Coram.

"He changed me as a person mentally, I can no longer trust adults," Wanessa Berry, 18, said. "I want others to know that what he did, who he is and why he should be punished."

Berry says she started seeing him as a patient when she was 12 at Family Medical Care on Union Boulevard while in foster care.

But she says it wasn't until she turned 16 in April of 2020 that her former foster mom reached out to tell her that he requested to speak with her, later giving her a gift for her birthday.

"Then eventually things started to get a little bit escalated," Berry said. "He would ask me to send me photos of his area, ask me to send me photos of myself naked in a bathtub."

The photos turned into sexual acts that she says happened at a beach in Suffolk County at a hotel and in his car.

"Over time, I would see him more, go out with him in public and he would tell me, 'I am your father and I am his daughter and we role play in public," Berry said.

She says he even gave her money.

"It would be $200, $300 at a time," Berry said. "He has given me over $10,000."

Berry says their encounters went on for a year and a half until she Googled him last fall and learned he was previously arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.

Berry's mom had no idea.

"Disgusted, betrayed," her mom Saunta Johnson said.

Eyewitness News knocked on Bennett's door. He opened it but slammed it the crew's face.

Neighbors say detectives recently told them about Bennett.

"A detective came," a neighbor said. "I was kind of like surprised. He was right next door to me and I have a 15-year-old boy so it's kind of terrifying."

He took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct -a misdemeanor.

He lost his medical license, is on probation for six years and is now a registered level three sex offender but did not get any jail time.

"How could you do something like this?" Berry said. "How could you live with yourself. How could you sleep. How could you go day to day knowing you caused innocent children pain?"



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