Ex-teacher seeks transfer to treament facility

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times

 

Benjamin Griffith

 

FARMINGTON – A former Bloomfield High School teacher convicted earlier this year of molesting a 17-year-old student is asking that the court transfer him to a mental health facility and to shorten his sentence.

Benjamin Griffith was sentenced to 18 months in prison on June 30 after pleading guilty on April 11 to one count of criminal sexual contact of a minor.

He was charged in December 2014 on allegations he touched the breasts of the female student on Oct. 15, 2014, in the computer lab at Bloomfield High School.

He had been hired in 2013 as an English teacher. A Bloomfield School District official told The Daily Times in December 2014 that Griffith was no longer employed with the district. 

Griffith — through his attorney Tyson Quail — asked the court to consider transferring him to the Las Vegas Behavioral Health Institute to serve part of his sentence in the Sex Offender Treatment Program, according to the Nov. 2 motion.

He requested his sentence be reduced to 12 months, with the last six months served at the Las Vegas mental health facility.

Two of the claims listed in the motion to support Griffith’s transfer are that he has no prior felony convictions or charges and he has had no significant issues while incarcerated.

A Jan. 31 hearing is set for district court regarding the motion. Quail did not respond to a request for comment.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said the district attorney's office is considering opposing the motion.

He said a call to the Las Vegas Behavioral Health Institute revealed the sex offender treatment program is not currently being offered right now. 

The DA's office also needs to contact the victim, he said, and ask her what her position is regarding the motion before a decision is made.

O'Brien said they'll also have to evaluate how the motion affects the time Griffith serves.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.