"Stand with the Bentleys": Mesa parents found not guilty in child neglect case

Posted at 12:44 PM, Aug 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-09 16:33:53-04

A Mesa couple has been found not guilty of child neglect after a very public case that included a flood of phone calls to the City Prosecutor's office.

On March 31, 2016 "Tommy" took the hiding too far and by April 1, 2016, after a night of searching, his parents Brian and Janna Bentley called Mesa police to help search for him.

"He snuck out sometime that night because of chores, he didn't want to do chores," said neighbor Robert Anderson who helped search for "Tommy.”

Janna Bentley and other searchers knocked on Anderson's door the following morning asking to search the property for the boy.

Soon Anderson and girlfriend Elise Waldygo saw police swarm the neighborhood.

"Cops are in the air with a bullhorn like 'you can come out nobody's angry,’" Anderson described.

Shortly later Waldygo spotted "Tommy" from her window.

"I saw in the bush over there, a little kid jumped up and started running," Waldygo said.

"He was like Sasquatch poking his head out of the bushes and looking around then he ran into the neighbor's back yard," Anderson added.

"I just took off running out of the house, and I ran over there," said Elise, who found the boy in the neighbor's oleanders.

Happy ending, right? Not according to the video.

"Moments later without a warrant an armed police officer burst into the Bentley home; soon the home was flooded with other officers and DCS workers," the video states using a dramatization of the events.

According to the Mesa police report, Janna Bentley noticed her son missing around 9:15 p.m. but assumed he was hiding like usual. 

At 10 p.m. she checks the house and continues to search until 2 a.m. when her husband Brian returns from work.
Brian then searches for another hour.

According to officers on scene, Janna told them the couple went to bed at 3 a.m. after "God told them he was safe.”
In the report, officers noted police were not called until 7 a.m. the next morning after the Bentley's dropped the other children off at school.

Officers also say Janna admitted that she knew there was a home of sex offenders nearby, but didn't approach the home until that morning.

According to police, they discovered nine juvenile sex offenders live at the home.

Officers also noted that "Tommy" was kicking and screaming in his father's arms when he picked him up like he wanted to get away.

They also became suspicious after paramedics wanted to transport "Tommy" to the hospital to be evaluated since the low outside was a chilly 41 degrees. But according to officers, even after a DCS worker tried to explain the importance, "Brian and Janna seemed unwilling to cooperate." 

The report states a DCS worker then advised the couple they would need to serve a "Temporary Custody Order" and Janna finally "relented to ride in the ambulance with (name redacted).”

Supporters claim in the video what happened next was an "unauthorized medical procedure.”

The video goes on to list all the other injustices they claim happened against the Bentley’s.

The Bentley’s are charged with child neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Both are misdemeanors.

Mesa police state at the end of the report "Janna and Brian Bentley permitted (name redacted) to be endangered by their actions and inactions.”

ABC15 has reached out to the Mesa Police Department for a comment.