KSU student pleads not guilty to alleged rape of two minors


Shane Flanigan

Attorney Tim Hart stands before Judge Kevin Poland in defense of his client, Kent State sophomore Benjamin Schwartz, during arraignment on Monday, March 4 at the Portage County Courthouse in Ravenna. Schwartz plead not guilty to rape and importuning charges of two 14-year-old girls at a Feb. 16 slumber party. Photo by SHANE FLANIGAN.

Kent State student Benjamin Schwartz was arraigned at the Portage County Courthouse on Monday afternoon after being arrested March 1 for the alleged rape of two 14-year-old girls at a slumber party he was chaperoning.

Schwartz, a 19-year-old Kent native listed as a sophomore biotechnology major at Kent’s main campus, appeared by video on courtroom monitor in front of Judge Kevin Poland wearing an orange and white jumpsuit from the Portage County Jail.

A graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School, Schwartz allegedly attacked the first 14-year-old victim during the afternoon Feb. 16 and attacked a second victim in the early morning of Feb. 17. Schwartz was allegedly able to separate the victims from the other juveniles in attendance at a home on Kimberly Drive in Kent. Schwartz does not have a prior criminal history.

Schwartz was silent during the arraignment on Monday as his attorney, Timothy Hart of Hart & Hart in downtown Kent, requested Poland waive the reading of the complaint filed against Schwartz on Feb. 27, as well as entering a plead of not guilty.

The criminal complaint filed with the Portage County Municipal Court stated Schwartz engaged in sexual conduct with two juvenile minors. The report also stated he is accused of using force or threat of force against the second victim. Police issued a warrant for Schwartz’s arrest on Feb. 27, after the complaint was filed.

Hart stood at the front of Poland’s courtroom with Schwartz on a television monitor placed above, and asked the judge to consider bond for his client. Schwartz has been held at the Portage County Jail since Friday on no bond after turning himself in to authorities.

“We just ask for a reasonable bond because of the circumstances of the case, your honor,” Hart said.

Hart’s argument to the court was a suspected lack of evidence because the investigation took over two weeks to complete, as well as indicating his client’s cooperation with the investigation. Schwartz surrendered to the Portage County Sheriff on Friday and voluntarily gave a statement. Hart declined to comment further on the case.

After minutes of deliberation, Poland announced a preliminary hearing to be set for Friday, March 8 at 10:45 a.m. in front of Judge Mark Fankhauser, which will determine if there is probable cause of a crime being committed and if Schwartz could be responsible for the crime.

With the availability of evidence lacking at the early stages of the trial process, Poland decided to recall the warrant on Schwartz and issued a $250,000 bond on the condition that the Kent State student not consume alcohol or illicit substances, as well as having no contact with the complaining witnesses. More information of details of the alleged crime committed will be exposed at the preliminary hearing.

Schwartz has been charged with rape, a felony of the first degree, and importuning, a felony of the fifth degree. A first-time conviction for rape of a minor in the state of Ohio can lead to a prison sentence between 3-10 years, per count, as well as additional time added if the defendant is found guilty of importuning, which is the use of force or threatening to use force against the victim.

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].


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Contact Molly Devaney at [email protected].