A sex offender was sentenced to nine months in jail Tuesday for three misdemeanors related to dressing as a woman and going into the women's locker room at the North Clackamas Aquatic Center last summer.
Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Steven Maurer found 39-year-old Thomas Lee Benson guilty of frequenting a place where children congregate, criminal trespassing, and unlawful entry into a motor vehicle.
In July, Benson put on a bra, lipstick and eyeliner and walked into the center. Police said he talked with children. Then he went into the women’s locker room and took a dip in the hot tub.
Maurer found Benson not guilty of felony unlawful contact with a child. Benson also received three years probation and sex offender treatment when he is released from jail. He blames his problems on his desire to cross-dress, says he will try to stop.
In a jailhouse interview with KATU News Thursday, Benson explained why he can't stop dressing like a woman.
"In order to achieve that goal of having you think I am female, I have to do things that victimize other people."
He said he wants people to know he's addicted to cross-dressing and he's vowed to stop.
"My drug of choice is women’s clothing," he said. "The high I get is by having people look at me and say, 'You are a woman.'"
But it's not his cross-dressing that worries parents, it's where he goes and it's his criminal history.
"Yes I have done things in the past that are bad, but I would also remind people I do not go around having sex with young girls anymore, and I have not been doing that in over 15 years," he said.
Benson has continued to put himself near young girls at the North Clackamas Aquatic Park and four years ago at the Mt. Scott Community Center. In both places, Benson went into the ladies locker room as children were changing.
He said he wants to change but he’s not certain he can change. He denied visiting the locker rooms to prey on young children.
"I say I do that to live my life as a woman, and I'm not there to victimize anybody."
Benson asked the judge who sentenced him for help, and he will receive sex offender treatment when he's released.
But he's received treatment before.
And while he said his faith is motivating him to change, he was unable to say with certainty that he would not continue to use locker rooms where young girls are changing.
Extended interview with Benson