Samuel Benda, accused sex criminal, has a birth certificate that proves he's 17, lawyer says

Categories: Crime, Immigration
samuel benda mugshot.jpg
Samuel Benda's lawyer says she his birthdate was chosen at random.
Samuel Benda's case will turn on the veracity of a birth certificate that's on its way from Sierra Leone.

Benda is charged with having sex with a minor and possession of child pornography. The former  charge, the more serious of the two, stems from an intermittent sexual relationship Benda had with a 15-year-old girl last year; the latter is the result of nude images on Benda's computer and cell phone of a 17-year-girl.

After Benda's defense attorney argued that the adoptee from Sierra Leone was actually 17, not 19, the judge in Benda's case ruled on Monday that he was an adult, and had been an adult during his alleged offenses. District court Judge Richard King decided that Benda had broken the law, and could stand trial as an adult, citing a slew of documentation that indicated Benda was born October 27, 1991.

But Lauri Traub, Benda's public defender on the case, told City Pages that the date is wrong. Traub said Benda's father, Jim Benda, had tracked down a Sierra Leone birth certificate that shows Benda was, in fact, born October 27 -- but in 1993, rather than 1991.

"I frimly believe that he's 17 years old an in an adult jail," Traub said.

This morning, Traub argued that Benda should be released on bail, but Judge King denied that. King did grant a request for a speedy trial, which will still leave Benda in jail until his next court date of November 8. Traub told City Pages that Benda isn't happy in jail, and that he's worried about the rumors of other inmates treating sex offenders badly.

"He's having a hard time in jail," Traub said. "He's very young. He's concerned about [being picked on by other inmates], and we tried to get him out. It's not going to happen."

benda explore talent.jpg
Benda, an aspiring singer and model, has his next court date on November 8.
In ruling that Benda was 19 years old, Judge King had listed Benda's repeated use -- including on police documents -- of October 17, 1991 as his date of birth. But Traub says that date doesn't come from any real evidence.

Benda, who'd been a child during Sierra Leone's horrific civil war, had been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder in the years after he was adopted by his Minnesota parents. According to Traub, police were called to the Bendas' house 26 times to deal with the juvenile refugee.

'Many of those times," Traub said, "it because [Benda] was having homicidal ideations toward his parents."

Around the same time, Benda began telling his adoptive parents that he was older than they'd thought. His parents took him in to see a doctor, who tested Benda's bone density and offered an age range, within which his parents chose October 27, 1991. They went to the state, and asked them to issue a birth certificate for that date, which was granted, according to Traub, who said there are several flaws with this process.

Firstly, at the young range of the doctor's estimate, Traub said, Benda would still have been a minor at the time of these sexual relationships.

But beyond that, bone density tests are not recognized by United States authorities, partly because the control samples are from white American men in the 1930's, Traub said. Still, Benda's given age stuck with him through high school, and it sticks with him now, in court and in jail.

"Everybody began using that date," Traub said, "and there's really no basis for it. It became, in my eyes, a lie that was perpetuated"

As Traub was speaking with City Pages, she said that she'd received an e-mail scan of his Sierra Leone birth certificate, which shows the year of his birth as 1993. She said the paper would arrive in the mail October 4, and be used at trial, but said she still had a lot of work to do before November 8.

"I wish I could spend eight hours a day working on this case," Traub said.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

I believe he should be locked up. He said gross things to me, and also said he would beat me up just last year. I'm a girl. and he has no right to pretend he's scared in jail when he scares girls.  I don't have any pity on this. 


Adoption and Immigration fraud anyone?


Bitch shut the fuck up and free my nigga Sam Leon he aint do that bullshit they saying,they just making shit up to charge him on and he is 17 same age as me so trick kick rock and choke you stupid hoe get your facts straight and he don't be scaring hoes. bitch you sound stupid af FREE SAM LEON EARLY NEVER LATE 


Alright get off my boy. like god he didnt do any off this all you guys do Is assume. You guys are pathetic for hating on an inocent man.


yeah, I'm sure all that people do is assume, because its not like they have investigators or anything to gather facts so they can prevent people from assuming. and evidence is never there, unless you count the photos found on his computer AND phone. i understand that he is your friend and all, but try to actually read the things that are written down in an article before you post a comment about it.

also, i have heard and seen situations where he doesn't act like an "innocent man", but it wouldn't surprise me, nowadays most musicians are becoming actors too :)

please be sure to read this, and reply if you would like, i would love to see what you have to say about this


Well best friend is the girl that he "had sex with" and has "porn" of hahaha she took the pictures, you can see it clearly since I've seen EVERY picture of them AND I know both of them well. They went to prom together the night they took the "pornographic" pictures. My friend had to go to court of she would be breaking the law, they practically made her go even though she couldn't emotionally. Either way the judge was unfair

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault