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Charges filed against man for 'marrying' 2 children

By JAMIE MALERNEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2000


A man charged with "marrying" a 12-year-old girl and trying to get her pregnant stands accused of taking a second child bride in another ceremony, after which the girl attempted suicide.

Authorities say Bruce D. Behensky, 49, of 3423 Amie Court near Dade City, "married" the 15-year-old within a month of his October wedding with the younger girl -- all while his wife and ex-wife looked on. He told the teen, as he told the other girl, that God had given him a vision in which the two girls each bore him two children.

After the ceremony, the teen refused to have sex with him and unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide by taking 25 pills of an undetermined type, Hernando County sheriff's reports said. The girl told investigators that she knew the marriage was wrong, that she would "go to hell," and that no one would help her.

As a result, Behensky faces four counts of child neglect in addition to the 10 counts of sexual battery he faces from his original arrest on April 19.

His wife, Teresa Behensky, 46, also faces a count of child neglect because she stood by during the so-called wedding, said sheriff's spokeswoman Deanna Dammer.

Arrest reports say that shortly before the ceremony, Bruce Behensky made the 15-year-old, his wife and his ex-wife, Tina Behensky, sign a "blood pact" in which all three promised never to have sex outside their marriage to him. Although Bruce Behensky was not legally married to his ex-wife, he lived with both wives in a polygamist-style relationship at the time of his "marriages" to the two girls, authorities said.

In the blood pact, Bruce Behensky pricked the 15-year-old's finger and, after it started bleeding, pressed it against a sheet of paper. He then did the same to himself. Then all four signed the document, reports said.

This incident resulted in one charge of neglect against Bruce Behensky. The three other counts he faces stem from when authorities say Behensky injected three boys with a syringe full of alcohol to treat them for ringworm. The boys, with whom he had a custodial relationship, told detectives that Behensky held them down for the painful procedure in summer 1999, reports state.

A doctor with the Department of Children and Families said this was an inappropriate way to treat ringworm and qualified as child abuse or neglect, a report said. Local pharmacists agreed Tuesday that an over-the-counter medication should have been used.

According to court records, authorities learned of Behensky's activities in March, when his wife accused him of sexual abuse. Shortly after, his 10 children were taken from him and he filed for divorce, records show. Teresa Behensky has since received a domestic violence injunction against her husband and had moved to a safe location before her arrest Monday.

Teresa Behensky states in her request for court protection that her husband used physical and verbal threats of God's vengeance to control his family.

Bruce Behensky remained in Hernando County Jail in lieu of $120,000 bail Tuesday. Teresa Behensky was released Monday without having to post bail. Dammer said officials agreed to the release after she promised to get counseling. Tina Behensky, who was arrested with Bruce Behensky last week, was released Friday on $10,000 bail. She faces one count of being a principal to first-degree sexual battery.

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