VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Police are investigating new allegations against a Virginia Beach business owner accused of sexually assaulting a former employee in August.
Benjamin Young is the president and CEO of Hybrid Air, an HVAC company based in Virginia Beach. He was arrested and charged with sexual penetration and forcible sodomy on Aug. 23. The charges come after a former employee told Virginia Beach Police that Young sexually assaulted her in his office on Voyager Court on Aug. 16.
Young appeared in Virginia Beach Circuit Court on Tuesday for a bond appeal in the case. He was granted a $20,000 bond, will be placed on house arrest, and will have to wear a GPS monitor.
Virginia Beach prosecutor Katharine Aicher said the woman was working at Hybrid Air for less than a week when Young told her he could not afford to keep her on the payroll. The alleged assault happened when she went to Young’s office to pick up her final paycheck. Aicher said the employee’s paycheck was supposed to be at the front desk, but Young allegedly brought it into his office so she would have to get it from him directly.
The woman reported the assault to police and got a SANE exam right after it happened, which is a way to collect potential evidence after a sexual assault. A search warrant filed in the case shows that the woman told police Young was chewing tobacco at the time of the assault, and the SANE exam revealed chewing tobacco inside of her body. Aicher said prosecutors are still waiting on some lab results.
Defense attorney Brandon Fellers said the sexual contact between Young and the former employee was consensual. Fellers also said that an employee was sitting outside of Young’s office when the sexual contact happened and did not hear the woman protest. Fellers said that right after the alleged assault, the woman texted Young asking if she could have her job back. Aicher said the woman sent that text at the direction of a Virginia Beach detective.
Fellers said Young met the woman while she was working at a local country club. Fellers said she was fired after making a sexual harassment allegation and “flipping off” a customer at the country club. Young saw her in the club’s parking lot crying and offered her a job. Quickly, a consultant told him he needed to downsize his business, and he realized he could not afford to keep her on the payroll. That was when he decided to terminate her employment.
Both Aicher and Fellers contend that Young’s business is failing and that he may sell it and his home.
Fellers also read excerpts of 12 letters submitted by community members supporting Young. Those community members described Young as “God fearing,” “reliable,” “trustworthy,” “compassionate,” and “a man of integrity.”
Since his arrest in August, Aicher said that prosecutors and the police department have heard from a “staggering” number of women making similar complaints against Young.
Aicher said most of the complaints stem from the last five years, and that they involve women ranging in age from teenagers to their 60s. Aicher also said some of the allegations happened outside of Virginia Beach.
“He categorically denies these bare allegations that were made with no proof,” Fellers said when asked by WAVY about the new alleged complaints.
The former employee told Virginia Beach detectives that Young was a member of the country club that she previously worked at. She said he was “suspended” from the club for a period of time due to “misconduct with the female employees,” a search warrant shows.
10 On Your Side’s investigative team asked Aicher exactly how many complaints have been received. She could not confirm the exact number, but said that police are actively investigating.