Man sentenced to five years in assault

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PARIS — A Buckfield man was given a five-year prison sentence Thursday after admitting earlier this month to assaulting a woman.

Dale Joseph Bennett, 25, of 518 Streaked Mountain Road, appeared in Oxford County Superior Court after pleading guilty March 23 to assault and aggravated criminal trespass. The plea dismissed charges of gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual conduct and burglary.

Justice Robert Clifford agreed with Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne’s recommendation that Bennett serve a five-year sentence on the assault charge. Bennett will also serve a consecutive fully-suspended five-year sentence with two years of probation on the aggravated criminal trespass charge. Following his release, he must not use or possess alcohol or illegal drugs, submit to random searches, attend substance abuse counseling, and have no contact with the victim in the case.

Bennett was charged with entering a 27-year-old woman’s residence in Buckfield last May and assaulting her while intoxicated. Dr. Heidi Burke of Stephens Memorial Hospital said the woman sustained bruises and contusions, including injuries consistent with non-consensual sex.

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Beauchesne said Bennett had been convicted of assaulting the same woman twice before and violating a protection from abuse order she had taken out against him. He also noted that Bennett had violated his bail conditions in the case on two occasions, including one on the same day as his plea where he tested positive for cocaine and marijuana use. He said that Bennett’s alcohol problem was “at least a partial explanation” for the incident, but did not outweigh the aggravating factors in the case.

“He knew exactly what he was doing, intoxicated or not,” Beauchesne said.

The woman asked for a strong punishment for Bennett.

“There is nothing he can do to change what he has done,” she said.

Bennett’s lawyer, Henry Griffin, said there were “significant differences” between Bennett’s story of the incident and the woman’s. Griffin said Bennett acknowledged that an assault had taken place, and his plea was a way of taking responsibility for it. He asked for a shorter sentence.

Bennett’s grandmother, uncle, and best friend gave short statements on his behalf. Bennett also addressed the court, apologizing to the woman.

“I want to seek help when I do get out of jail,” he said.

Clifford said he felt a five-year sentence was appropriate due to the past assaults on the woman and the “particularly cruel” manner in which the most recent one was committed.

mlangeveld@sunjournal.com

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