Salem Gym Teacher Darren Benedick Charged After Undercover Investigation into Child Exploitation


SALEM, Mass. – Gym and health teacher Darren Benedick, 42, of Salem was arraigned in Newburyport District Court on Wednesday afternoon following a sting operation in which he allegedly made plans to meet an underaged girl for a sexual encounter, apparently unaware that the person he was communicating with online was not a 14-year-old girl but rather an undercover Newbury Police Department officer who had been monitoring a “teens-only” chat room.

The arrest was made by Newbury Police with assistance from the Salem Police Department.

Benedick, who is employed at Salem Academy Charter School, was charged with one count of child enticement and one count of dissemination of matter harmful to minors. At this time, authorities have no allegations that any students at the school were subject to the defendant’s alleged misconduct, according to Essex County District Attorney Paul Tucker, Newbury Police Chief Patricia Fisher, and Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller.

The defendant is alleged to have engaged in online conversations with the undercover officer expressing a desire to meet in person and engage in sexual activities, to have sent an obscene image to the officer, and to have described the sex acts that he wished to perform. A meeting was set for Wednesday, July 3 and the defendant was taken into custody upon arrival for the intended encounter.

Newbury Deputy Chief Aaron Wojtkowski, a member of the Massachusetts Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, served as lead investigator on the case. At the arraignment, the Commonwealth requested a cash bail of $50,000 with GPS monitoring, home confinement, and no contact with children. The court set bail at $5,000 and granted the non-monetary terms, including the no contact with children order. District Attorney Tucker, Chief Miller, and Chief Fisher advise parents and guardians to engage youth in age-appropriate discussions about proper online and social media behavior, and to encourage them to speak up if they encounter inappropriate contact from an adult.