Accused faces backlash as more charges laid over youth prostitution

Political candidate copes with public backlash over publicity surrounding his arrest

Benny Wolfe heads into Penticton City Hall to pick up his  nomination papers for November’s civic elections. The mayoral candidate says he has felt a public backlash since coming forward about criminal charges against him.

Benny Wolfe heads into Penticton City Hall to pick up his nomination papers for November’s civic elections. The mayoral candidate says he has felt a public backlash since coming forward about criminal charges against him.

The father accused of pimping out his daughter near the Soupateria in Penticton is facing additional charges, while three other men face charges for allegedly receiving sexual services from her.

“The three men have been arrested in relation to an ongoing investigation involving the procurement of a youth for sexual purpose,” said Cpl. Annie Linteau. “Numerous charges have now been laid against the father who was allegedly making his daughter available to these men for sexual purposes.”

RCMP did not release the names of the three men — aged 34, 63 and 67 — pending charge approval. The men were released on a promise to appear in court and can’t be in the presence of anyone under the age of 16.

In May, RCMP received information that a young girl was being sexually victimized. Her 46-year-old father was arrested on July 22 and Crown counsel has since added charges for a total of three counts of assault, two counts of sexual interference, two counts of living on the avails of prostitution, one count of sexual exploitation and one count of a parent or guardian procuring sexual activity. The man remains in custody and will be appearing in court in September for a bail hearing. The man’s name is not being released as a publication ban is in effect.

Benny Wolfe, who previously ran for Penticton mayor in 2008 and plans to run in this November’s municipal election, chose to out himself as a John before police formally laid charges. It is an unusual campaign tactic to show voters he is not trying to hide anything. The 67-year-old man said he was a client of the juvenile for about eight weeks but argues that he was told she was of legal age.

Wolfe said he expected some backlash since he came forward publicly about the potential charge that carries a minimum sentence of six months and up to five years of jail time. In fact, the mutterings of passersby strolling in front of City Hall this week go ignored by Wolfe, who was there to pick up nomination papers for the November election.

“I have had three threats against my life and I have had to report to the police on three different occasions,” said Wolfe, standing on the steps of City Hall. “I also had a lady at the Farmers’ Market basically challenge me, and I said look at the paper, read the news but don’t judge me unless you have the full facts. Let the courts hear the evidence, then after all the evidence has been heard and the judge has ruled, then you can criticize me, if there is any at all.”

On Thursday Wolfe told the Western News that he received an eviction notice from the apartment where he is living effective Sept. 26. While Wolfe said he can handle the comments from the public until he gets his day in court on Sept. 7, he claims some people are getting physically abusive.

“I was approached in Safeway on Sunday at 10 a.m. when I was purchasing some ice cream and a fellow came up and said basically that I ‘was going to get it’ and ‘you are going to be hurt.’ On Friday when I was in line at the soup kitchen I was attacked from behind by a drug addict. He rushed behind me and hit me on the head,” said Wolfe.

Most offensive to Wolfe is being turned away at the door of a nightclub he frequents. Wolfe is known to dress extravagantly at the club in what he describes as glitter clothes, crazy hats, crazy glasses and his 1990s rapper-inspired giant clock around his neck.

“I really felt offended because I was welcome to that nightclub for close to three years. The young women loved me. I never approached them, they always approach me because I always dance centre stage and they love my clothes and the way I dance. They told me I’m not allowed in because I am going to destroy their image. I just shook my head and said, ‘you know what you are picking on the wrong guy because there are people in that nightclub that I would consider undesirables but they still let them in,’” said Wolfe.

 

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