Rock County sheriff’s deputy suspected of child abuse
Neil J. Bennett, 27, of 165 S. John Paul Road, No. 15, Milton, appeared in Rock County Court on Tuesday and was ordered not to contact his daughter without approval from Rock County Child Protective Services.
Bennett is on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation at the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, Chief Deputy Barbara Tillman said.
“Frankly, this is very disturbing to us. It’s upsetting,” she said. “It’s a difficult day at the sheriff’s office.”
According to the criminal complaint:
The girl told Milton police Monday her father had slapped her bottom and face because he was mad at her for having difficulty putting on her pajamas. Her dad then said “sorry too many times.”
The girl had bruises on her neck, jaw, shin and collarbone. Horizontal lines also were on the girl’s bicep, possibly from a hand grabbing her.
Bennett initially denied slapping his daughter, saying the marks were from tickling. He then said his daughter had been misbehaving at his mother’s house the previous night, crying and not listening.
Bennett admitted grabbing his daughter’s arm, but he didn’t think he grabbed her very hard.
The investigator then confronted Bennett with his daughter’s statement. Bennett admitted to slapping his daughter, saying he was angry because of her misbehavior. He said he didn’t mean to hurt her.
The girl’s injuries were visible, but she didn’t need medical attention, according to the Milton Police Department.
Bennett was hired as a correctional officer in October 2008 and worked in the Rock County Jail, Tillman said.
He became a deputy sheriff in February, she said. He graduated from the police academy in May.
Bennett has been in the field training program and riding with another deputy during first shift.
Bennett was placed in the Green County Jail after his arrest. He was jailed in Green County for protection because he had worked in the Rock County Jail and had contact with inmates, Tillman said.
The Rock County Sheriff’s Office also wanted to remove any conflict of interest from having him in its jail, she said.
After the internal investigation, Bennett could face punishment ranging from an oral reprimand to termination, Tillman said. An internal investigation typically takes a week to 10 days.
Bennett still is a probationary employee and could be fired without cause, she said.
In the criminal case, he faces up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine if he’s convicted. He is scheduled to be in court July 13 for a preliminary hearing.
Last updated: 2:04 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012