President Benton's son arrested for threatening family

Photo Credit: L.A.County Sheriff’s Department

President Andrew K. Benton’s son Christopher Benton, 27, was apprehended on the second floor of the Thornton Administrative Center by LA County Sheriff’s Deputies. Benton was arrested at 11am on Thursday, a day after alleged threats against his family. The Pepperdine community received the following email from University Public Relations around 1:50pm on Thursday:

“Chris Benton, the adult son of President Andrew K. Benton, was apprehended today by L.A. County Sheriffs on the Malibu campus of Pepperdine University for alleged threats made against his family. Pepperdine fully cooperated with law enforcement personnel to protect its students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The Pepperdine community is asked to remember the Bentons during this difficult time.”

Benton gave the Graphic the following statement:

“We love our son and, perhaps, we love him even more as a consequence of the many challenges he has faced in his life.  He has made a number of harmful decisions, especially those emerging from experience with drugs and poor choices in friends.  We don’t know exactly how we arrived at this point, but we are a family and we will work through it.  We hope this present situation is the beginning of a new path, and we pray fervently to that end.”

According to the L.A. Times, Benton was also taken into custody on suspicion of being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun and ammunition. Authorities found a gun on a campus hillside which is believed to have been discarded by Benton.

It is not clear at this time whether Benton was living on campus.

Benton was previously involved in the case surrounding the death of 25-year-old Katie Wilkins in April, who was found in her parents’ garage on West Moon Shadows Drive on the evening of April 28. Although the LA County coroner’s report determined her official cause of death to be heroin overdose, Benton was the last person to be seen with Wilkins according to surveillance footage from a McDonald’s restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway. Benton would not talk to the authorities regarding his connection to the case. Shortly after Wilkins’ death, Benton entered a drug rehabilitation facility.

More information will be added to the article as it becomes available.

 

9 Comments

  1. Nick Berg

    August 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    As a Pepperdine Alumnus who cares deeply about the reputation of the University and the safety of Pepperdine students, I am deeply troubled that there was a criminal threat, ammunition in Christopher Benton’s car, a gun discarded on a nearby hillside, and an arrest on campus according the Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman. After the tragedies of Virginia Tech and Oikos University, I am horrified to think what could have occurred. That we’ve gotten to this point and that Christopher Benton was even allowed on campus is really unacceptable given his connection to the Katie Wilkins case. Frankly, I don’t want to hear about Dr. Benton hopes and fervent prayers for his son. I want to know that the University cares more about safeguarding the broad Pepperdine community against incidents involving gun violence than it does about the President’s son. This situation is so far out of bounds that Dr. Benton should resign as President of the university and focus on his family.

  2. Matt Ador

    August 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Pepperdine is a joke

  3. Kristen Chang

    August 24, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Dr. Benton should NOT resign as President. He’s done such a good job and he’s well-loved by all. He is not responsible for the actions of his adult son – knowing AKB, I’m sure he did all he could to raise his son well. But ultimately we get to make our own choices.
    As for the DPS issue, I’m not sure they could have prevented this from happening. If we refuse to let anyone with a bad history on campus, that shows we lack grace and forgiveness. Nor would it be practical to do a background check on everyone who arrives. At the same time, you wonder if there weren’t more clues to signal an unsafe situation. DPS isn’t amazing when it comes to discernment either (too busy giving out parking tickets). So where’s the line?

  4. Traci

    August 24, 2012 at 11:42 am

    While Pres. Benton is not responsible for the actions of his son, he is responsible for his responses to them. Chris’s record shows a long history of efforts to cover up the danger he is to himself and others. Most recently, with the silence over Chris’ connection to the death of Katie Wilkins and decision to hire a lawyer rather than cooperate with homicide detectives. If Andy had made different choices in the Wilkins case perhaps this most recent offense would not have taken place. I believe it demonstrates a troubling lack of moral leadership and good judgement. He should resign and focus on healing his family.

  5. Debbie

    August 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    This incident happened as parents were gathered in groups praying for the students and professors of Pepperdine. One of our prayers was for the protection of all living at Pepperdine. God answered that prayer. I pray for Christopher that he will get the help he needs and I pray for his family that they will continue to move forward and know the deep grace of God in their lives.

  6. Anon

    August 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Pepperdine students, faculty, staff, and parents all have a right to know what steps are being taken to make sure Christopher Benton does not ever return to campus. While he may be in jail now, if he makes bail, will we be informed? Will a community watch be organized? These concerns are not far fetched given similar incidents on other campuses in the past few years. Furthermore, the Malibu community needs to be informed as well, since his whereabouts have been a city wide question since April. I am all for prayer, but silence, closed door meetings or a stiff upper lip are not an adequate response to this threat. Sweeping it under the rug and throwing a party at the Brock house the next night is not an appropriate response. A community wide meeting seems essential.

  7. ANON

    August 25, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    In light of this arrest, perhaps the campus security system should be reviewed. Why was Chris Benton allowed back on campus Thursday morning? The police had been searching for him all night, but somehow he returns to the Brock House. Public safety cannot claim ignorance, since they knew he was on campus. What if he had waited until the freshman reception was held on Thursday evening to re-enter the Brock House with a loaded weapon?

    Perhaps the “visitation booths” should act more like “guard shacks”. The safety of students in any case is paramount.

  8. Charles

    August 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    There is not a college campus in the US that can keep anyone off, if that person really wants on. They are not surrounded by wired fences, nor do we want them to be. Pepperdine is a great place for students, and as far as the “visitation booths” or “guard shacks”, someone wanting on will not have to pass through there to get onto the campus.

  9. daniel ardron

    August 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I agree with anon. I’d like to be kept in the loop as to the status of CAB, bail and living arrangement-wise. As a parent of a freshman student, I was stunned that this occurred right under our noses. I concur that if Pres. Benton had not effectively insulated his son from any type of inquiry or consequences resulting from the Katie Wilkins affair, this most recent event might not have occurred. (Anybody would have to be naive (or in denial) to assume that Christopher was not doing illegal drugs with Katie, a criminal offense, at a minimum. AKB seems not to connect the dots like the rest of us do that his son was likely somehow involved with Katie Wilkins death; that he knows more than he’s saying. AKB has exhibited, in my opinion, an indifferent detachment to the whole affair.) Barring CAB from his (former?) home unless he cooperated fully with police would have been a tough love response we could have respected. AKB is much loved and has been soundly and universally praised by all the people we’ve spoken with who are connected to the university; I’m sure he’s served the university wonderfully, but many of us question whether he can continue to lead and be seen in a mentoring capacity to our kids now that this dirty little secret (which he doesn’t really seem to have come to terms with yet) about his prodigal son (not yet gone out to the world and returning broken and penitent) is out there for the world to see. He’d be better off (minimally) to take an extended leave of absence (preferably one that took him off campus where his kid could visit anytime he wanted).

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