Though this blog is was originally intended as a resource for offenders in Massachusetts, much of what I write about is applicable to sex offenders in every other state and many countries around the world, especially in Western Europe. Even other non-sex offenders trying to navigate prison, probation and parole, or employment and education opportunities can glean relevant information from this blog and apply it to help overcome their own struggles.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Press Release Regarding Peter Benjamin from Swomley & Tennen, LLP

This statement is in response to the ill-considered actions of the New England Conservatory in their treatment of Peter Benjamin, a freelance videographer who was commissioned repeatedly by NEC Departments, and professors at NEC to film performances over the past 13 years for no reason other than the exceptional quality of his work.
Mr. Benjamin is a talented artist and musician. As an undergraduate student at Boston University, Mr. Benjamin auditioned for and was personally hired by Sarah Caldwell to sing in her Opera Company of Boston Chorus . He sang professionally there for 25 years with some of the greatest opera stars in recent history such as Beverly Sills, George London and Boris Kristoff. Mr. Benjamin also gained the attention of Johnny Carson in the early 1960’s and was commissioned by him to film his family. He has worked for many celebrities because of his great expertise in photography and videography. Since then, his work has appeared on 60 Minutes, PrimeTime Live, and the cover of the New York Times.

He has combined his video skills learned as a child with his music acumen and is unmatched by his expertise in classical music and his ability to capture the sounds and visuals of a first rate classical performance in a professional quality recording. Recently, he videotaped Tony Woodcock, the current president of NEC, teaching an adult master class. At no time has there ever been a complaint or cause for concern occasioned by his videotaping these live events. Contrary to the reporting occasioned thus far, the bulk of the videography he was commissioned to do, involved college or graduate level performances.

A small part of the work Mr. Benjamin has been commissioned to do at the New England Conservatory consisted of documenting rehearsals and performances of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Benjamin’s work involving the Preparatory School was conducted in group settings, with multiple cameramen that he brought with him and under conditions where it would have been highly unlikely he would have had so much as a conversation with a student.

In 1991, Mr. Benjamin made a serious mistake. For this he was prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned. Thereafter, of his own volition, Mr. Benjamin entered into and engaged in a very successful four-year intensive therapy program specifically designed to treat individuals who had sexually offended against minor-aged adolescents. The recidivism rate for individuals having completed this program is less than 5%. After Mr. Benjamin completed his sentence in 1998, he was released and placed on supervised probation for five years. As part of his probation Mr. Benjamin was required to work. Mr. Benjamin obtained permission from the probation department to return to his long-time profession of videotaping live music events. While on probation, he was asked to have another adult with him when he was filming at schools or churches to negate any possibility or appearance of impropriety. Probation specifically knew he filmed events at the New England Conservatory. Successfully completing probation, Mr. Benjamin nevertheless kept this precaution in place for years afterwards. Mr. Benjamin has never re-offended and deserves credit for this.
It has come to Mr. Benjamin’s attention that the publicity surrounding NEC’s actions against him may also serve to cause new harm to his primary victim by dredging up the details of those past transgressions. Mr. Benjamin apologizes in advance for this. Mr. Benjamin is grateful his victim asked to meet with him upon his release from prison and gave Mr. Benjamin the opportunity to apologize face to face for his crimes. Mr. Benjamin is forever grateful to be graced with that individual’s forgiveness.

Further questions or comment should be directed to:
John Swomley
Swomley & Tennen
227 Lewis Wharf
Boston, MA 02110
(617) 227-9443