ROCKLAND, Maine — A Rockport woman is suing the man who was convicted of abusing her over several years.
The woman filed the lawsuit last week in Knox County Unified Court against 31-year-old Eldon Bennett of Rockport. Bennett has not filed a response yet to the suit.
Bennett was convicted in April of domestic violence assault against the woman. He was sentenced to three years in jail with all but 11 months suspended, to be followed by two years of probation. The sentence was imposed by Justice Daniel Billings in the Knox County court despite an impassioned plea by the woman that it was far too lenient.
Bennett has two domestic assault convictions prior to the April conviction — one with a former girlfriend and one against the current victim in 2012.
The Rockport woman had asked for a 10-year sentence, saying she feared that Bennett would kill her when he got released from jail.
“Eldon took away my dream of a happy life and instead now it is a nightmare for me and my son,” the woman said at the April hearing.
The local domestic violence education and prevention organization New Hope for Women had a representative at the sentencing hearing and other supporters of the woman were in attendance.
The latest felony domestic violence assault occurred on Thanksgiving morning last year. Bennett had been driving his Jeep around the yard while drunk and got the vehicle stuck. He then went inside the home and assaulted the woman.
The victim’s initial statement to police, according to the police affidavit, was that Bennett slapped her in the face and tried to spit on her. The victim said at the April hearing, however, that the assault was much more severe and that he pulled her out of bed, slapped her, spit at her, kicked her in the ribs while she was on the floor and said horrible things to her. She said he threatened to shoot her and then shoot himself.
Also, though prevented from contacting the victim while on bail, Bennett nevertheless called her and visited her at the house, and then, while in jail for violating the bail conditions, sent letters to their 3-year-old son in which he wrote messages for the woman.
In sentencing Bennett, however, the judge accepted a plea agreement that the defendant had reached with the district attorney’s office and stated that the 10-year sentence the victim sought would not be upheld on appeal. The prosecutor said that the inconsistency in the victim’s initial report and later statements could have led to a not guilty verdict and that is why the plea agreement was reached.
In her lawsuit, the woman states that Bennett assaulted her repeatedly from the spring of 2011 when they began living together through to November 2014, when he was arrested in the latest incident.
She is seeking unspecified damages for assault and battery, false imprisonment, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by attorney Alison Wholey Briggs of Rockport.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.