Rock County deputy returns to active duty after child abuse charge dismissed

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Ted Sullivan
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
— A Rock County sheriff’s deputy has returned to active duty after a felony charge of physical abuse of a child filed against him was dismissed Monday.

Neil J. Bennett, 27, of 165 S. John Paul Road, No. 15, Milton, denied hitting the girl in the face, and Rock County Child Protective Services found the allegations to be unsubstantiated, Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary said.

A Rock County Sheriff’s Office internal investigation also found the accusations to be unfounded, and he was reactivated from paid administrative leave, Sheriff Bob Spoden said.

Bennett was charged June 15 after his 4-year-old daughter told Milton police that he had slapped her in the face two days earlier.

Police reports stated Bennett admitted slapping his daughter in the face during a recorded interview, O’Leary said.

A review of the video showed that Bennett admitted to spanking his daughter for misbehaving, but he had denied slapping her, he said.

The criminal complaint stated 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.

But child protective services saw no injuries on the child June 15, O’Leary said.

The district attorney’s office reviewed photos of the child taken a day earlier and saw no significant injuries, he said. Other evidence also didn’t support the charge.

"We don’t have charges that we can prove," O’Leary said.

Child protective services allowed Bennett to contact his daughter after no safety threats were found, he said.

The sheriff’s office had placed Bennett on paid leave pending an internal investigation. Two captains interviewed people and reviewed the Milton police and child protective services investigations, Spoden said.

They decided Bennett didn’t violate sheriff’s office policy, he said.

Bennett was hired as a correctional officer in October 2008 and worked in the Rock County Jail. He became a deputy sheriff in February. He graduated from the police academy in May.

Bennett has been in the field training program and riding with another deputy during first shift.

Last updated: 2:01 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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