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REBECCA Producer, Ben Sprecher, Sentenced to Probation in Child Pornography Case

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Sprecher was arrested at his Harlem home in August 2019.

REBECCA Producer, Ben Sprecher, Sentenced to Probation in Child Pornography Case

Ben Sprecher, producer of the doomed Broadway musical Rebecca, was sentenced to probation today, following his August 2019 arrest for possession of child pornography.

In addition to the probation period, Sprecher will have to register as a sex offender wherever he chooses to reside within the United States and pay a $5000 fine.

The court accepted the recommendation of probation by Sprecher's court-appointed lawyer Martin S. Cohen who cited the increased danger of incarceration amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as Sprecher's ongoing treatment for "mental illness."

Cohen said, "The conditions of confinement during the pandemic are incredibly horrific and brutal, punitive...There is no ability for people incarcerated to follow any of the strictures of the CDC. Any perceived societal benefit from imposing a brief sentence of incarceration in our view is vastly overweighed by the nature of incarceration now."

He continued, "He has spent this past 19 months working through what led to this offense. The sentence that we're requesting will allow Mr. Sprecher to continue those treatments uninterrupted."

The producer spoke at the sentencing, saying, "I own the consequences of what I did. No matter what your judgment is, I own it."

Prosecutor Samuel Philip Rothschild, had initially sought a prison term of 78 to 97 months, and argued that the sentence was not "sufficiently punitive" or an adequate deterrent befitting of a crime of this nature.

Rothschild went on to cite a 2013 ruling that a child pornogrpahy victim "suffers continuing and grievous harm as a result of her knowledge that a large, indeterminate number of individuals have viewed and will in the future view images of the sexual abuse she endured."

A hard drive recovered from Sprecher's home contained 130 videos and over 5,000 thumbnails of children as young as infancy suffering abuse.

Judge J. Paul Oetken said of the sentencing, "A sentence of probation does constitute punishment. I don't agree with the idea that in every single case incarceration is necessary," particularly given the stigma of registering as a sex offender."

Noting the seriousness of his crime, Judge Oetken explained that his decision was based on Sprecher's remorse, as well as a lack of any prior criminal record, his ongoing treatment, positive written character testimony, and the fact that he is a father of two.

Oetken cited letters describing Sprechers positive impact, "kindness", and "difficult experiences in his childhood."

Judge Oetken also made allusions to the controversy surrounding Sprecher's failed Broadway musical adaptation of the classic novel, Rebecca, stating that he "obviously went through a very traumatic professional experience that led to a spiral of depression and compulsive self-destructive behavior."

Sprecher was a leading player in the drama surrounding the cancelation of Rebecca and the legal aftermath surrounding its failure. The musical, based on the classic novel by Daphne Du Maurier, was originally scheduled to open on Broadway in 2012, but was canceled after a series of financial setbacks, including the discovery of a mystery investor who turned out to be the fabrication of a scam artist.

Financier and stock broker Mark C. Hotton was sentenced to almost three years in jail in 2014 for defrauding the show's producers of $60,000 and for an unrelated $750,000 real estate scheme which prosecutors said featured some of the same deceptions used in the REBECCA fraud.

In the years following the saga, Sprecher and producing partner Louise Forlenza, continued to try to raise money for the show's Broadway debut, and had performance rights extended as late as December 2014. The duo no longer possesses rights to the show.


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