Bently: I did not have sex with that girl
Matt Bently knows he’s got an uphill climb, but he’s determined to prove that he’s not guilty of statutory rape.
Bently, 32, was working as a Glenn County sheriff’s deputy last year when a 17-year-old girl who was on a series of school-sponsored ride-alongs with him told officials that she was having an affair with Bently. The ensuing court battle was widely reported, and since then Bently has gotten a divorce and lost his job and much of his reputation.
He’s set to be sentenced Friday, July 27 and faces up to three years in prison. That was an improvement from Bently’s perspective, since he faced more than twice that prison time last summer when he was charged with seven counts of statutory rape and oral copulation with a minor. He agreed to a plea bargain last month and pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape in exchange for a lesser jail sentence.
Even though he agreed to plead guilty, Bently is adamant that he’s innocent. He said that the only reason he agreed to a plea deal was because he “didn’t trust a jury to find out the facts of the case” in light of what he calls the Glenn County district attorney’s “total lies and fabrications.”
Bently claims that the DA, Bob Holzapfel, orchestrated a cover-up in his case. He claims that the girl who accused him of having an affair with her made the same accusations against two of her high school teachers in an effort to blackmail them—something that a private investigator hired by Bently learned but that could not be independently confirmed.
Bently admits to being “friends” with the girl but maintains that he never had sex with her.
“We talked, and I was friendly with her, but it was nothing like what they said,” he said.
Bently insists that Holzapfel took the girl’s case after Bently complained that the DA had refused to prosecute Sheriff Bob Shadley’s son, whom Bently said he arrested right before the case was filed.
“They didn’t like it that I wouldn’t play in their good ol’ boys club,” he said. “And they made me pay for that.”
Hozapfel laughed out loud when asked about Bently’s claims and said that investigating the case was “a walk in the park.”
“Some of these cases, you really have to dig to find out what happened,” he said. “But this one, it’s all right there right in front of you. It was easy.”
He didn’t mince words when asked about Bently’s character.
“I think he’s a fraud and a liar,” he said. “I think he’s been a fraud for most of his life.”
Bently, who worked as a police officer and sheriff’s deputy for upwards of 10 years, is now back in school and working on his master’s degree in social science. He’s also writing two books—one about his public downfall and another about the way people are socialized in a society, his academic passion.
He also plans to file suit against Glenn County.