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Aspiring El Paso County deputy wants to help victims "like me"

September 4, 2017 Updated: September 5, 2017 at 5:13 pm
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photo - Ben Corriea
Ben Corriea 

Ben Corriea was 10 when he learned that his father had sexually assaulted a child half his age.

His parents had long since divorced, but Mark Corriea was still "Dad." What did his mother mean he couldn't see him anymore?

More pointedly, "What does 'molest' mean?" Jacqueline Kirby recalls her young son asking.

Mark Corriea was convicted of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust after admitting to abusing a girl for three years, starting when she was 5. He turned himself in to authorities in 2009, arrest records say.

He remains jailed, serving four years to life in the Fremont Correctional Facility.

It would take Ben a few years to understand what the charge meant, but one thing was always clear, he said Thursday. What his father did was wrong, and he wanted to stop it from happening again.

Now the 19-year-old is a civilian employee for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, where his mother works as the spokeswoman.

In two years, he will apply to be a deputy and hopes to work in the Special Victims Unit, where he can help "little 10-year-old Bens like me."

"I've seen what it has done to my family," Ben said. "That's why I want to be in investigations, so I can be with the victims ... and have that background, 'I've been there.'"

He has messages in mind for the people he expects to encounter.

To the victims: "I'd tell them, 'Get back up.' They need to know that they can take this beating as a negative, or they can do what I did and take that beating and turn it into something positive."

He said he's not ashamed of his family history; he sees it as an asset for his career.

"It would be embarrassing if I wasn't going to do anything to change it," Corriea said. "People can say, 'Oh your dad's a sexual predator, he molested a child.' Yes he did, but I'm pursuing a career that will stop that and will prevent it.

"If he didn't do what he did, I may not be who I am," Corriea said.

His message for criminals is less kind: "Evil will never win... I'm excited to teach more people that."

Granted, his dream is years away. He can't graduate from a police academy until he's 21, and even then he'll be looking at a minimum of three years working in the jail and on patrol before he can apply to be a detective. But Corriea said he isn't backing down from his dream.

He said he wants to be an El Paso County sheriff's deputy despite his mom's job there.

"It's kind of like with your favorite football team, that's the team you want to play for," Corriea said.

He said he hopes his story will show the hearts that motivate law enforcement officers today, especially as tensions are high with the public they serve.

Everyone has a story, he said. "This one is mine."

"When I'm a deputy, I don't want people to see me as a cop, but as a human being with a very dark story, and I turned that story and started to write the second half of it," Corriea said.

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