flagrant probation violations
September 22, 2006
By STUART WATSON / 6NEWS
E-mail Stuart: SWatson@WCNC.com
A Cabarrus county judge revoked the probation of a sex offender today and locked her up—after the 6NEWS Investigators exposed flagrant probation violations.
This case is unusual because the sex offender is a suburban mother of three.
Amber Benitez Holt walked into the Cabarrus county courthouse with her husband and mother holding her arms. But a courtroom deputy was holding her arm to escort her out of the back of the courtroom, after Judge Erwin Spainhour senther to prison for producing porn and possessing morphine and oxycodone while onprobation.
Ms. Holt, a hair stylist by trade, the mother of three and a registered sex offender was convicted three years ago of taking indecent liberties with a minor after providing alcohol and having sex with a 15-year-old girl. The judge repeatedly ordered Ms. Holt not to possess pornography as part of her sentencing agreement. But Amber Benitez Holt not only possessed porn, she produced it.
Ms. Holt’s ex-husband, Victor Benitez, told us months ago that “she was on the internet for joint sex with her and her husband and another couple.”
After we first raised questions probation officers searched the Holts’ home and found hundreds of pornographic images, including pictures of Amber Holt herself. A deputy testified he found sexually explicit chat under her screenname “myraginredhead.”
Prosecutors also played a home video of couples engaged in various sex acts a ta birthday party for Amber Holt’s current husband, Mitchell Holt. While Amber Holt did not appear in the video, evidence showed she was present behind the scenes as it was produced.
Amber’s ex-husband, Victor Benitez, told us their 11-year-old son discovered the video as well as some explicit photos. His lip quivered and his eyes watered as he first described how profoundly his son had been affected by the pictures of his mother.
Concord police detective Laresa Cook testified that Holt was first charged with having sex with the 15-year-old girl after buying tequila for a group of teens. Cook read aloud a statement from one of the teens who said that during one party, Ms. Holt’s “oldest boy woke up and was crying.” The child would have been less than 10-years-old at the time.
Victor Benitez accused the Cabarrus District Attorney’s office of not pursuing Amber’s case earlier because she’s a woman.
”A sex offender is a sex offender. I don’t care what their gender is,” said District Attorney Roxanne Vaneekhoven.
In her defense, Amber Holt’s attorney presented a signed child custody order from Rowan County showing Victor Benitez was thousands of dollars behind in child support and had signed over primary custody only last month – long after he had complained publicly of his ex-wife’s probation violations.
When asked why he had not fought for custody of the children, Victor Benitez said it was because he didn’t have the money to hire an attorney because of having to inherit divorce debt.
Amber Holt broke down crying as she made a brief statement after six hours of testimony and argument, telling the judge that it is “very hard to see my husband’s and my personal private things exposed. We have tried to take every precaution. I’m sorry.”
But only minutes later Superior Court Judge Erwin Spainhour told a courtroom audience of prosecutors and probation officers,
”She has got to pay the price..She has simply got to realize we’re not playing games around here,” the judge said.
Spainhour then sentenced Amber Holt to 90 days in prison and three months of intensive supervised probation. She’s scheduled to get out of prison three days before Christmas.