Pepperdine President's Son Receives Two-Year State Prison Term for Parent Threats and Gun Possession by Addict
BY ANNE SOBLE
The plea deal culminating in a two-year sentence in state prison that was negotiated earlier this month for Christopher Benton, the son of Pepperdine University President Andrew Benton, was implemented by Judge Karen Nudell at a sentencing hearing last Friday in Van Nuys Superior Court
Benton, 27, had agreed to plead no contest to two felony charges of making criminal threats against his father and possession of a firearm by a narcotic addict, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Another three counts—criminal threats against his mother, grand theft of his parents' handgun, and possession of ammunition by an addict—were dismissed at his sentencing.
Jane Robison, press secretary for the LADA, said, "[Benton's] father was there but he declined to address the court."
It is unlikely Benton will serve the full sentence because of jail overcrowding, with most legal observers indicating that Benton will more likely serve from 15 to 18 months, including the time he has been incarcerated since his Aug. 23 arrest.
No specific information was available on possible substance abuse programs that might await Benton, described as a heroin and other illegal drugs abuser.
Benton has been represented in court by an alternate public defender provided because he cannot afford counsel, a county supposition based on his inability to post bail.
Benton has admitted "threatening his father at the family's home on the Malibu campus on Aug. 22 during a family argument," according to the DA's office.
He returned to the campus the next day armed with a handgun that was allegedly stolen from his parents—one of the charges that was dropped in the plea deal—where he was arrested and charged with the five original counts.
Case observers posit that the plea deal may have been crafted to preclude Benton's parents from having to testify against their son in a public trial.
A week after his son's arrest, the senior Benton issued a statement to the Pepperdine community: "Chris will not be returning to campus for some time, probably a long time. That status will not change until the University Threat Assessment Team concludes that it is appropriate for him to do so. All parties—the Court, the District Attorney, University leaders tasked with assuring campus safety, as well as his mother and I—agree with this decision. It is not an easy thing to do, but it is appropriate."
Benton's serious legal problems—most are illegal drug related—date back to his early teens. He has three felony convictions for illegal substance use/sale and related charges dating from 2003 to 2009.