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Bail In Sex Case Set At $4.5M

An Escalon man was remanded to San Joaquin County Jail on $4.5 million bail following a Monday, June 30 court appearance.

Benjamin Banta, Sr., 61, was arrested following an investigation into a potential child molestation case and seven felony charges were filed against him in court on Monday, in addition to four enhancements.

According to the court information, Banta was remanded on the multi-million dollar bail on felony counts including two of continuous sexual abuse of a child, two count of oral copulation with a victim under 10 years of age, two counts of lewd acts upon a child and one count of exhibiting harmful material to minors.

Escalon Police Department was contacted on June 23 regarding a potential child molestation case. It was initially reported that a 13-year old girl had been victimized multiple times while she was between the ages of 4- and 11-years-old, said investigating officer Anthony Hardgraves. The reporting party also voiced concerns that at least one additional female minor may have been victimized as well.

The initial investigation, Hardgraves said, lead to the service of a search warrant. Statements made and evidence gathered as a result, culminated in the arrest of Banta.

He was initially booked at the San Joaquin County Jail on one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child and one count of oral copulation. His bail was set in excess of one million dollars, with the additional counts levied and the bail increased at the June 30 proceedings.

Banta was remanded to jail pending a further court appearance set for Thursday, July 3, for a pre-preliminary conference and bail review hearing.