5:12 PM

Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek has filed first-degree child molestation charges against a Nixa firefighter.

Cleek says that Captain Michael "Keith" Benson, 40, allegedly molested a 7-year-old little girl during a March 2008 birthday party for one of his step-children, but didn't tell her parents until last month. Cleek says that he, "expects to file additional charges in the case but can't comment on them because they haven't been filed yet."
Court documents say that the little girl who is a friend of Benson’s stepdaughter said he pulled her pants down with one hand and rubbed her bottom with the other.

The victim told investigators that she, "was scared to tell my parents because they like him and I didn’t think my parents would believe me.”

The probable cause statement alleges that Benson of exposed the victim, now 8 years old, to deviate sexual contact. He is being held in the Christian County jail on $50,000 bond.

Nixa Fire Protection Assistant fire chief Brian Newberry says that the fire protection district has no comment on Benson's employment as they just learned of his arrest.

The range of punishment for the child molestation charge is five to fifteen years in prison.
Press Release 07-17-09
Nixa Fire Protection District301 South Nicholas Rd <> Nixa, MO 65714Emergency 911 <> Business (417) 725-4025 <> Facsimile (417) 725-2393-
Nixa, Missouri, July 17, 2009 The Nixa Fire Protection District was informed on June 17, 2009, of an investigation involving an employee, Michael Keith Benson. Mr. Benson was immediately placed on leave from the District. To our knowledge the accusations do not involve the Fire District in any way. As of July 16, 2009, Michael Keith Benson is no longer employed by or associated with the Nixa Fire Protection District.