Three local men in court on sex crime charges

WARREN – A 58-year-old man from Weathersfield indicted on Thursday on 11 counts of rape, including seven that carry a sentence of life in prison, pleaded not guilty to those charges Friday in his first court appearance.

The case against Michael Hanick is the second rape case against a Trumbull County man this week; on Thursday the same grand jury indicted 61-year-old Rick A. Benchea of Warren on 12 counts of rape and two counts of gross sexual imposition.

The grand jury also charged David A. Messer, 28, of Vienna Avenue in Warren, with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance, and pandering obscenity involving a minor.

The charges against

Hanick, of Clearfield Avenue, accuse him of raping two girls, one of them a 6-year-old, four times between October and December 2005, and the other, an 11-year-old girl, three times in April and May 2014.

The indictment against Hanick also contains four other rape charges, two from June 2012 and two between May and June 2013 that carry prison sentences up to 11 years. The gender and age of a victim in these counts are not included in the indictment.

Hanick is being held in the Trumbull County Jail on $1 million bond. He is due back in court Aug. 12 before Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan.

Benchea and Messer appeared with Hanick in court Friday before Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay.

All of the counts of rape against Benchea, in jail in lieu of a $1 million bond, carry potential life sentences and allege force or threat of force against the victim, an 11-year-old girl. Some of the charges stem from allegations that the girl was raped when she was younger than 10. Investigators said she was about 7 1/2 years old when the abuse started.

The girl reported on June 4 that she was raped by a man she knows, identified as Benchea, between Jan. 1, 2013, and May 28, 2014. Benchea will return to court on Aug. 12, also before Logan.

Messer is accused of taking sexually explicit photos of an 8-year-old girl dating back to May. Investigators reported that that girl’s mother found digital pictures of her daughter with Messer, who is an acquaintance, and called police. Investigators deemed the photos as sexually explicit in nature.

Messer, being held in jail on $250,000 bond, will return to court on July 23.