MIAMI COUNTY — In Miami County Common Pleas Court, Benjie Van Winkle, 42, of Troy, entered a plea of guilty to three counts of first-degree rape in a change of plea hearing on Wednesday.
Each count carries a mandatory sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a $20,000 fine.Van Winkle could face up to 30 years in prison and be fined up to $60,000 if the sentences run consecutively.
The three minor female victims were under the age of 13 at the time of the offenses.
The joint plea agreement allows the state prosecution and defense counsel to make their case for the judge to order either concurrent or consecutive sentences for each count. Van Winkle was also advised he will be labeled as a Tier III sex offender. He will not be eligible for early release.
According to law enforcement officials, the alleged sexual assaults occurred outside of Fletcher in Brown Township, in Troy, and as well as in Champaign County. According to reports, on Feb. 9, Van Winkle confessed to the allegations during the initial interview with authorities.
Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeannine Pratt ordered Van Winkle to participate in a pre-sentence investigation. He will be sentenced Sept. 6.
Melanie Yingst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews