Officer released, but wife tells court she’s ‘afraid’


GLOUCESTER, Mass. (AP) – The Rockport Police Department’s domestic violence officer charged with firing a weapon during a dispute with his wife has been released from jail on personal recognizance.

Robert O’Neil, 38, was released despite objections from prosecutors and his wife, Rosa Benito, who told the court “I don’t feel safe,” according to the Gloucester Daily Times.

Gloucester District Court Judge Richard Mori on Friday released O’Neil, and ordered him to confine himself to his sister’s home in Walpole. O’Neil is wearing a monitoring device, and can only leave the home to meet with his lawyer or attend a mandatory substance abuse program.

“I’m afraid,” Benito testified Friday during a hearing to review O’Neil’s custody status. “I don’t feel safe, and I don’t feel that my daughter is safe. I don’t want this happening again in my life.”

Benito said she was upset at her husband of 10 years because he broke a New Year’s resolution to stop drinking, the newspaper reported.

O’Neil was arrested Jan. 12 on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, domestic assault and battery, armed assault with intent to murder and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building. O’Neil allegedly fired a handgun near his wife’s head at their Rockport home.

Mori said he did not believe O’Neil was dangerous enough to be held without bail for 90 days.

O’Neil, who turned in his passport, has been an officer in Rockport since July 1999. He’s been suspended without pay.

A Feb. 20 pretrial hearing was scheduled.