The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office (WPSO) is providing an update on a significant investigation led by Detective Chad Cassard. On November 29, 2022, Detective Cassard initiated an investigation into allegations of sexual battery and indecent behavior with a juvenile. The investigation revealed that 27 year-old Benjamin Hart, a cross-country truck driver from Weare, New Hampshire, targeted the victim through Xbox Live, establishing contact while playing video games. Further investigation uncovered that Hart had an existing case involving multiple juveniles in Carroll County, New Hampshire.
In February 2023, Detective Cassard sought assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, leading to Hart’s apprehension in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on April 4, 2023. Hart contested extradition. WPSO, in collaboration with the 22nd District Attorney of Washington Parish, pursued a governor’s warrant for his extradition. After a competency hearing in January 2024, Hart was deemed competent by a Bernalillo County medical examiner and judge and the Governor’s Warrant for extradition was granted.
On January 19, 2024, Benjamin Hart was transported to the Washington Parish Jail, where he has been booked on charges of sexual battery, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Bond has been set at $250,000.00. This remains an active investigation.
Anyone who may have information about Hart or who may be a victim are urged to contact the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office and speak to Detective Chad Cassard.
“This case serves as a crucial reminder for parents to monitor their children’s online gaming and social media interactions closely. Incidents like these are not just occurring in large cities; they are striking close to home in our own community,” states Sheriff Randy “Country” Seal.
WPSO extends their gratitude to the local District Attorney’s office for their invaluable assistance in securing the New Mexico judge’s approval for extradition. The WPSO remains committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our community, particularly its youngest members.
***All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty***