Former USM iTech employee sentenced in cyber-stalking case

Former USM iTech employee sentenced in cyber-stalking case
Quandom Benn

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A former University of Southern Mississippi staff member who was charged in a cyber-stalking case was sentenced Wednesday in Forrest County Justice Court.

Quandom Benn, 31, was charged with seven misdemeanor counts of stalking and seven counts of disturbing the peace in November 2014, all related to staff members using his personal laptop and cell phone during campus work hours.

Benn appeared in Forrest County Justice Court before Judge Gay Polk-Payton where he was sentenced to 14 months suspended jail time, one year probation, mandatory counseling sessions, and no contact with victims, no trespassing on the university campus and a $500.00 fine for each of the seven counts of disturbing the peace.

When Benn was asked if he had any comment, he shook his head and looked to the ground.

Two of the victims involved in the case appearing in court today, however both requested to remain anonymous and their names be withdrawn from the record.

One victim chose to address the court and Benn directly.

"On June 17, 2014, at 2 p.m. my life was changed forever."

The female victim detailed how she received a phone call from University Police Department Detective Rusty Keyes asking her to come in about a case he was working on.

"When I arrived at 2 p.m., Rusty stated an information technology worker was doing inappropriate thing to his fellow employees. The university police department called the suspect (Benn) in for questioning; they confiscated his phone and found videos of many women that on campus. Unfortunately I was one of the women."

As the victim continued to read her statement in court, she began to cry, pausing briefly as she gasped.

"The videos were of me in my office, he videoed my face, legs, and under my dress. He also had pictures of a deposit slip that had my home address and banking information."

The victim stated she was sick to her stomach, so sick, and couldn't breathe. Her biggest question, "How did I not know"?

She stated she was crying so hard that Detective Keyes had to drive her back to her office.

"Since that time, I have missed many days of work, time with my kids, my grand kids, family and friends. My life has been turned upside down."

"I am scared, paranoid and feel like a prisoner in my own home and office."

"I have accepted the realization that he will not face serious consequences. I have decided the only thing I can do now is move forward and work hard on getting a law established and passed that would punish any individual that decides to commit another horrible act as this one."

In closing, with others gathering around her and Detective Keyes comforting her with his hand placed on her upper back, she added, "I feel as if I was virtually raped."

As the victim finished her statement, she was embraced by the other victim present in court.

According to statements from the judge, Southern Miss did try to pursue this case on a different level, as a felony, but because of the laws at the time, it would not allow it. Investigators were dealing with what they had at the time, and that law at the time was what they had to go by.

Since then, a bill filed by State Sen. Joey Fillingane has passed that increases the punishment for invasion of privacy from a misdemeanor to a felony.

The other charges that Benn is facing, seven counts of stalking, have been suspended at this time, pending (Benn's) completion of all court requirements and including his probation.