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Attorney, suspects speak in child pornography case

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 6:39 PM CST
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Loretta “Lolo” Allen Bennett and Eddie Gray Holt spoke to Newscenter 11 Tuesday, about a week after they were arrested on child pornography charges.

“I might have been accused of a lot of things, like being a loud mouth or motor mouth, but I’ve never been accused of child molestation or even harming a child,” Bennett said.

“Every time I run for office, this administration comes up with something to stop me,” Holt said.

Meridian police arrested Holt and Bennett last week and charged them with receiving, possessing and distributing child pornography. Two others were charged, but have since had their charges dropped.

The material at the center of the case is a video recording of a 9-year-old boy. Their attorney, Joseph Denson, said his clients were not in possession of the video for lustful purposes. He said the child is actually the half-brother of Holt’s daughter, who is around the same age.

“The mother undoubtedly knew something was going on in her home. Why hasn’t this mother been charged? Why is one of the kids still in the custody of the mother?” Denson said.

Holt told us that he sent the video to Mississippi Child Protective Services as soon as he knew it existed.

“This video was taken in August. This is what they do in that household and that’s the reason I sent it to Child Protective Services,” Holt said.

Holt said the only reason he sent it to Bennett was because she knows everyone and could make the boy’s family aware of the conditions in the household.

“The intent was to get help for that child and to also let Child Protective Services protect these children,” Holt said.

According to Denson’s clients, the video allegedly shows the 9-year-old boy, without clothes, dancing around. They said the video was recorded by the boy’s cousin. Both Bennett and Holt say they never had the video for lustful purposes.

“I will say that I did send what I thought was a screenshot to the cousin of the person that filed the charges. When you look on her page she only says things about Mr. Holt,” Bennett explained. “She doesn’t say anything about the child. So what I am asking to the viewers watching WTOK, is it really about the child or is it about the father that reported her to CPS?”

Denson says the statute for child exploitation is very broad. He makes the case that anyone who sends a video similar to the one in question could easily be charged, no matter the intent.

“If I, as a defense attorney, sent a video to a prosecutor, under those circumstances, I now have fully fulfilled every element of all three statutes,” Denson said.

Denson and his clients also question if the charges were only brought forth now because it’s an election year. Holt said he intends to run for the Ward 2 city council seat.

Holt and Allen Bennett are well known in the community. Both have been critics of local government. Bennett ran for Lauderdale County Dist. 2 supervisor in 2019. She was also fired from the city of Meridian after posting a controversial image on social media. She was also the vice-president for the Meridian NAACP chapter. She held that title briefly in 2019.

Holt ran for District 2 Justice Court Judge of Lauderdale County in 2011, but was originally disqualified for having a felony conviction. Holt appealed but was disqualified a second time. He also ran for the same position in 2015. Holt also made news last year when he raised concerns over a former Meridian councilman not living in the correct ward.

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