McLennan County prosecutors have dismissed a child sexual assault case after discovering that they indicted the wrong man.
A prisoner named Adam Lee Bennett, 32, was mistakenly indicted in August on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Prosecutors actually meant to indict Adam Wayne Bennett, 21, of Waco.
In a dismissal order signed Thursday by 19th State District Judge Ralph Strother, prosecutors simply wrote, “wrong person indicted” as the reason for dropping the case.
Adam Lee Bennett currently is serving a six-year prison term in the Cole prison unit in Bonham for possession of methamphetamine and unlawful use of a vehicle. He served another brief prison stint for bail jumping in 2011 and has spent time in jail for failure to stop and render aid, theft and parole violations.
While the older Bennett has been handled a number of times by the criminal justice system, Adam Wayne Bennett was 19 when his accuser made a sexual assault outcry against him. Court documents indicate she was younger than 14.
The alleged assaults occurred in March 2014, when Bennett was still a juvenile. So he was processed through the juvenile court system, where he was certified as an adult by 74th State District Judge Gary Coley Jr. in January 2018 and transferred to the adult criminal justice system, said his attorney, Sam Martinez.
He remains free on bond, but he called Martinez recently and asked about the status of his case, Martinez said.
“He actually called me a month ago, but it is not my position to be looking for cases to get indicted or not,” Martinez said. “I called the juvenile center to make sure all the paperwork had been transferred to the DA’s office. But I left it alone at that point.”
Prosecutor Hilary LaBorde said the mix-up in names occurred after a former paralegal in the DA’s office who was assisting in the preparation of indictments found an Adam Bennett in the DA’s computer files and typed in the wrong date of birth, criminal identification number and state identification number.
That resulted in the wrong Adam Bennett being indicted.
“I’m sure she looked in there and assumed, ‘How many Adam Bennetts could there be?’” LaBorde said. “It was an honest mistake, but now we are that much more delayed in getting justice for Adam Bennett’s victim, and that is certainly something nobody wanted.”
LaBorde said she expects Adam Wayne Bennett to be indicted on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child on Feb. 13.