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Moline man accused of targeting, sexually abusing 6-year-old autistic child

Quad City Times - 11/18/2023

Nov. 16—A Moline sex offender on federal supervised release is accused of breaking into a Moline home and sexually abusing a 6-year-old autistic child, Moline Police said.

Benjamin A. Slininger, 38, is charged in Rock Island County Circuit Court with one count each of home invasion, residential burglary, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and criminal trespass to a residence.

According to the search warrant affidavit, officers were sent to a home in the 2200 block of 46th Street at 2:40 a.m. Sunday, Nov 12, to investigate a report of sexual abuse.

The parents of two children, ages 6 and 4, caught a man in their children's bedroom. When the man saw the children's parents, he opened the eastern-most window of the home and fled on foot toward Avenue of the Cities.

After the man fled, the parents noticed that the pajamas and diaper of the older child were pulled down. The children had remained sleeping.

On Monday, Nov. 13, officers conducted a canvass of the area looking for security cameras that may have captured the suspect. A surveillance camera at Computer Revolution, 4512 Avenue of the Cities, caught on Nov. 12 at 1:28 a.m., a man fitting the description of the assailant in the area of the 2300 block of 46th Street crossing Avenue of the Cities in the vicinity of the victim's residence.

At 2:41 a.m., the camera at Computer Revolution caught the same man running south in the 2300 block of 46th Street.

Detectives then conducted a canvass of sex offenders living within the vicinity of the crime. Slininger fit the description of the assailant, and his residence in the 4600 block of 24th Avenue Court is in the vicinity of the victim's home.

Slininger was identified as the man in the video, and when officers tried to arrest him, he resisted. Slininger refused to answer questions and requested his lawyer be present.

According to the petition to deny pretrial release, Rock Island County Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Gardner said it is believed that Slininger watched the 6-year-old child get onto a school bus, which is why he targeted the child. Looking at a photo of Slininger police took on Nov. 13, the child's mother told detectives she recognized Slininger as being around the bus stop.

During a search of Slininger's home, officers located a hand-written letter saying, "How can I build confidence? My fantasizing about younger girls, is it pedophilia, or something else?"

Slininger was being held without bond Thursday night in the Rock Island County Jail.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 28 in circuit court.

Home invasion is a Class X felony under Illinois law that carries a prison sentence of six to 30 years, while residential burglary is a Class 1 felony that carries a prison sentence of four to 15 years.

Aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a Class 2 felony that carries a prison sentence of two to seven years, while criminal trespass to a residence is a Class 4 felony that carries a prison sentence of one to three years.

On Aug. 17, 2011, a federal grand jury charged Slininger with one count of possession of child pornography. On Jan. 10, 2012, during a hearing in U.S. District Court, Rock Island, Slininger pleaded guilty to the charge.

On Jan. 11, 2013, Chief U.S. District Judge James Shadid sentenced Slininger to 30 months, or 2 1/2 years in federal prison to be followed by 10 years on supervised release.

Slininger was released from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on May 14, 2015, and is due to be released from supervised release in 2025.

On Aug. 2, 2022, Slininger wrote a letter to Chief U.S. District Judge Sara Darrow requesting early release from supervised release.

In his letter, Slininger stated he had been on release for more than seven years and had maintained a Moline home since 2009 and steady employment for almost six years.

Slininger told Darrow that he does not associate with criminals or engage in criminal activity and that guns were never a part of his life. He added that the group counseling sessions and the one-on-one counseling sessions had "been an invaluable tool for self-improvement."

He said that understanding his past had helped him make improvements in his life. Therapy also has allowed him to improve his self-esteem and confidence, "and has given me the tools I need to handle any inappropriate thoughts, should they occur."

Slininger told Darrow that he lives a lifestyle that is much more "respectful and honest than before," and that he is "a more responsible and mature man."

"I feel I'm in a good place, and as I said before, have become a more mature and responsible person," Slininger said in his letter. "I believe I have proven my capacity to live a normal life without further transgressions."

Darrow denied Slininger's request on Aug. 3, 2021, saying that Slininger was utilizing the services the U.S. Probation Office and continuing these services will make it less likely that he will re-offend and more likely to successfully complete his term of supervised release.

Federal authorities could charge Slininger for violating his supervised release and sentence him to a term in federal prison.

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