Man gets probation for lewd act case at Pump It Up in Belmont

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An 18-year-old man charged with taking inappropriate photos of a 7-year-old girl at a Pump It Up play center in Belmont and also sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl was sentenced Friday to five years of supervised probation, according to prosecutors.

Tavi Benelli of Belmont was arrested in April after prosecutors said he lured a 7-year-old girl into a room at the Pump it Up bounce house center at 1309 Elmer St. in order to take inappropriate photos of her. Benelli reportedly told the girl, who had been at the play center with her nanny, that she had a scratch and that he could put a band-aid on it, prosecutors said. She liked band-aids, so she went with him, and while there Benelli told the girl to “turn around and start jumping up and down,” said prosecutors. Benelli then reportedly took photos of the girl’s behind and later told her she had a dead bug on her behind before touching her, claiming to brush it off.

The girl left the room and reported the incident to her nanny, who called police. When deputies asked to see Benelli’s cellphone, he “turned away and tried to delete the pictures,” prosecutors said. The deputy took the phone and found multiple pictures of the victim, which Benelli acknowledged was done for sexual gratification, prosecutors said.

The following month in May, Benelli faced additional charges after a 14-year-old girl came forward saying he sexually assaulted her for four months after they’d met through friends.

Benelli’s no-contest plea came with a sentence of five years probation and no jail time beyond the 182 days he’s already served. As part of his sentence, he must “register as a sex offender, have no contact with confidential victim number two, have no interaction with minors, submit to warrantless search and seizure and random polygraph tests, not enter stores selling pornography or possess pornography, and obtain Probation Department approval for any employment or change of address,” according to prosecutors.

Photo credit: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office