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Monday, January 12, 2009

[IN] FEARING "RESIGNED" OFFICER BENSON

...He was wearing stocking cap and a dark sock stretched across his face like a mask... She was afraid to call police, she said, fearing Benson would lose his job on the Anderson police force and the abuse would become worse... “She’s lived in terror and her kids lived in terror and her family lived in terror for a long time,” said Stacey’s father, Roger.

Abuse victim fears ex-husband, former APD officer
Herald Bulletin
By Shawn McGrat
January 09, 2009 11:41 pm

NOBLESVILLE - Prosecutors have filed a felony charge against - and revoked the bond of - a former Anderson police officer accused of harassing his ex-wife.

Darin L. Benson, 43, Fishers, already facing seven misdemeanor counts of invasion of privacy, was charged on Dec. 31 with a single count of stalking, a Class C felony.

The stalking charge is punishable by two to eight years in prison. Each of the misdemeanors carries a possible sentence of six months to three years in jail.

The charges say Benson allegedly called his ex-wife, Stacey R. Benson, 36, Fishers, nearly 100 times over a seven-day period, beginning Dec. 21. In the calls, Benson left messages trying to persuade Stacey to resume their relationship, saying “they were ‘soul mates’ and that they belong together,” according to a court document.

“I had to change my life because of this,” Stacey said Thursday of the ongoing harassment.

The couple married in June 2005 after dating for about a year. Stacey said her husband became verbally abusive a month after they exchanged vows, and the relationship turned violent a few months later.

Stacey wanted to speak to The Herald Bulletin to raise awareness about domestic violence. Her father, 61-year-old Roger Burnett, Frankton, initially contacted the newspaper.

“It’s been very difficult to get the (law enforcement) agencies to talk to one another,” Burnett said. “There’s more history here than is known by any one jurisdiction.”


Stacey said the couple met in 2004, when she worked as an exercise physiologist at Saint John’s Medical Center. They married the next year and lived in Fishers.

“He began drinking a lot after we got married,” said Stacey, the mother of two daughters, 14 and 16. “Then it went down hill.”

Stacey said the intoxicating effect of the alcohol was intensified by the prescription medication she said Benson took to alleviate back pain and to treat his bipolar mental disorder.

Benson became verbally abusive about a month into the marriage. The physical abuse — mainly kicks to the back and slaps — started about five months later. He was controlling, Stacey said.

“He became verbally abusive,” she said. “Shortly after that, physically abusive. Very controlling. Some punches, mostly open-handed.

“The physical abuse was only when he was drinking,” she continued. “But when he stopped drinking, the verbal abuse and controlling continued.”

Stacey said she didn’t want to leave the marriage. She was afraid to call police, she said, fearing Benson would lose his job on the Anderson police force and the abuse would become worse.

“I didn’t want him to lose his job,” she said, “because he has kids and was paying child support. I knew if I called he would have lost his job, because if I called, it would have been domestic abuse. And it would have been worse for me.”

Benson began going to counseling, she said, and underwent an in-patient detox program. None of it worked, she said. She filed for divorce, and the couple separated in March 2007. The divorce was finalized that July, but Benson wanted to get back together.

Stacey said he would leave threatening notes in her mailbox, saying he would harm whomever she dated. It culminated on Oct. 17. She had gone to run errands one evening, and when she returned, she discovered a living room window pushed out of its frame and another note in the mailbox.

“‘I almost found out where he lives tonight. I will kill him soon,’” Stacey said the note read. She said she turned the note, written on a napkin, over to Fishers police.

Stacey said she then decided to install video cameras around the home. On Oct. 19, according to court documents, she was away from the house, but her mother, Carol Burnett, spotted Benson walking in front of her daughter’s home, staring at the residence. He was wearing stocking cap and a dark sock stretched across his face like a mask. Carol followed Benson and confronted him a block away. She asked him about his behavior and pulled off the makeshift mask.

Benson drove away, and police arrested him parked in his driveway still sitting behind the wheel. He refused to comply with police orders and was arrested for resisting arrest and invasion of privacy, for violating a protective order.

It was Benson’s third arrest in a year.

Hamilton County authorities arrested him on suspicion of misdemeanor public intoxication after he allegedly acted belligerently during a concert at Verizon Wireless Music Center on May 24.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed with that charge, Benson cut in front of other patrons waiting in a beer line. Several confronted him, but Benson pulled out his Anderson Police Department badge, told them he was a police officer and said he had the “right to jump line,” according to the court document. Benson also allegedly threatened several of the patrons.

Benson, a 20-year APD veteran, retired from the department the next month. He entered a diversion program, and the charge was to be dismissed in October 2009 if he stayed out of trouble, a possibility that may not happen now.

Benson remains in the Hamilton County Jail without bond.

“She’s lived in terror and her kids lived in terror and her family lived in terror for a long time,” said Stacey’s father, Roger.

For her part, Stacey said she can’t explain Benson’s seeming obsession with her.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” she said.

And Stacey said she just wants him to leave her and her family alone.

“I’d like for him to go to prison,” she said. “(Domestic abuse victims) need to report it and get out as early as possible.” [LINK]

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