A Princeton, Texas, man will spend the next 45 years in prison without the chance for parole, after being found guilty of sexually abusing a child multiple times within a two-year period.
Benny James Phennel, 38, was known by the female victim and had ongoing access to her, according to a press release from the office of Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis.
Fennel was found guilty of sexually abusing the victim for two years, starting when she was just 10 years old.
Out of concern that another child was going to spend the night with Phennel, the victim told family members about the abuse she endured from the suspect.
The victim’s family confronted Phennel about the abuse, and he admitted that he "messed around" with the victim, the DA’s office said.
After the admission, the family reported the abuse to the Collin County Sheriff’s Office, and the case was taken over by Investigator Olivia Penson.
During the investigation, the victim disclosed details about the abuse in a forensic interview at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County.
Fennel was found guilty by a jury of continuous sexual abuse of a child.
He was sentenced to 45 years in prison and will not be eligible for parole because of the nature of the crime.
"We are proud of this child victim’s courage to disclose her abuse to an adult and to testify against her abuser," Willis said after sentencing. "And how admirable that her motivation was to protect another child."