Former Behavioral Therapist Accused Of Faking Own Death To Avoid Sex Registry

A former behavioral health counselor was apprehended in Arizona on Tuesday after authorities said he faked his own death to avoid registering as a sex offender.

Benjamin Hollins, 50, was convicted of an unspecified sexual offense more than 20 years ago in California, but failed to register as sex offender in 2018 when he moved to Arizona City, where he was working in mental health, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday.

The same year, Hollins was charged with kidnapping and the attempted sexual assault of a 16-year-old client in Arizona.

Hollins took a plea deal and was sentenced to supervised probation, according to the announcement. As part of the plea deal, Hollins was required to register as a sex offender on a yearly basis.

Deputies said that in October 2023, Hollins enlisted help from a woman to file a false report. The woman claimed she saw Hollins kill himself by jumping off the bridge at the Theodore Roosevelt Lake Dam.

The Theodore Roosevelt Lake Dam bridge, near the Roosevelt Dam at the intersection of state routes 88 and 188, west of Phoenix.
The Theodore Roosevelt Lake Dam bridge, near the Roosevelt Dam at the intersection of state routes 88 and 188, west of Phoenix. Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

No body was discovered, but according to court documents cited by news station KOLN, authorities found a green bag sitting on the bridge containing a suicide note and ID.

Hollins was considered dead and his sex offender registration lapsed, according to the Pinal County sheriff’s announcement.

Detectives investigated the woman who reported seeing Hollins jump, which eventually led them back to the suspect, according to KOLN. Authorities said he had been living with a family with children in the home, under the name “Julian Jefferson.”

According to the sheriff’s announcement, the family did not know about Hollins’ actual history.

Hollins is now facing several charges, including failure to appear, probation violation and failure to confirm sex offender identification, according to inmate records. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney representing him.

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

If you or someone you know needs help, call or text 988 or chat for mental health support. Additionally, you can find local mental health and crisis resources at Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention.