Bail revoked for father in West York 'house of horrors' child-abuse case
One of two West York parents accused of creating a "house of horrors" for five of their seven young children is back in prison for allegedly violating his bail conditions, according to county court records.
Charles M. Benjamin, 72, formerly of the 1300 block of West Market Street and recently of Parkway Boulevard in York City, had been free on $250,000 bail. His bail conditions required he have no direct or indirect contact with his underage children and their mother, co-defendant Janay Fountain.
Their seven children remain in protective custody, including twin babies whom police did not list as victims of any crimes, according to court records.
The couple's five other children — ages 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 at the time they were taken into protective custody on Feb. 6 by York County child caseworkers — are listed as victims in court documents.
York County probation officers earlier this month asked presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness to revoke Benjamin's bail, alleging Benjamin violated his bail conditions by making threatening statements toward Fountain about "turning state's evidence against him," according to court records.
Ness ordered Benjamin's bail revoked on Sept. 13; that order was docketed by county clerks on Sept. 16.
On Friday, Sept. 20, Benjamin was remanded to York County Prison, court records state.
Probation officers allege he called Fountain's family members and was trying to speak with her.
Benjamin's defense attorney, Clarence Allen, could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Comments made? Fountain reported that Benjamin "made threatening comments to her on Sept. 4, 2019," according to court records, which allege it happened in the waiting room of the county's adult probation services department.
Benjamin's probation officer noted in her court filing that she specifically told Benjamin on that date that he was forbidden to have any contact with Fountain.
"He had mentioned multiple times during this meeting that he heard that Ms. Fountain had 'turned State's evidence ... against him,'" the filing states.
Benjamin remains charged with five counts each of aggravated assault and child endangerment, plus one count of false imprisonment of a minor by a parent — all felonies. He also is charged with five misdemeanor counts each of simple assault and reckless endangerment.
Fountain, 26, is also free on bail. She remains charged with felony counts of child endangerment for allegedly allowing her children to be abused.
'House of horrors': West York Police Chief Matt Millsaps has said the children's former West York home "was literally a house of horrors for these children."
Benjamin is accused of beating the five older children with a wooden board, a belt and a curtain rod — assaults police allege left the children with scars and bruises. He also allegedly kicked some of them while wearing boots, charging documents allege.
Benjamin is also accused of choking one of the children and holding the heads of at least two of them underwater in a bathtub, according to court documents.
Benjamin locked the children, in smaller groups, in a room with no bathroom — forcing them to relieve themselves on the floor, according to allegations in court documents, which state the floor was soaked in urine.
Some of the children indicated they were locked in a room during the day and weren't let out until after dark, according to Millsaps.
Police have said they found a pile of feces behind a radiator in that room, adding it appeared the children had to relieve themselves in the room because Benjamin wouldn't let them out to use the bathroom.
Millsaps has said that before being taken into protective custody, the older children had never been to school and had limited access to the outside world.
A forensic registered nurse from York Hospital testified at Benjamin's April 3 preliminary hearing that there were multiple scars and bruising on the children's bodies.
She called it "overwhelming to see."
Allen, Benjamin's attorney, has previously told The York Dispatch, "Sometimes things aren't as they appear to be."
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.