The district attorney’s office has dismissed five remaining charges of felony sex crimes against a Bristol man in exchange for a plea of no contest to domestic violence assault.
Joseph A. Benner, 38, entered the plea to the class D misdemeanor Sept. 24. He received a fully suspended nine-month jail sentence and a year of probation.
His probation conditions prohibit contact with the victim, the same minor referred to in the original charges.
Benner “did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause offensive physical contact to a minor child,” according to the domestic violence assault complaint.
“Given the extenuating circumstances of the case, the parties jointly agreed to resolve the matter without a trial,” the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Andrei R. Maciag, said in a court document.
Maciag declined further comment.
Benner’s attorney, Thomas F. Hallett, called the dismissal an “unmitigated victory” for his client.
“He was determined to go to trial. And he would have been found not guilty at trial, but it would have put everyone through a lot of trauma,” Hallett said in a phone conversation.
“He didn’t do what he was accused of, quite frankly,” Hallett said.
Benner was indicted on 10 counts of felony sex crimes Sept. 12, 2018 – four counts of class B gross sexual assault, two counts of class B unlawful sexual contact, and four counts of class C sexual abuse of a minor.
On May 17, the state dismissed the four counts of gross sexual assault and one of the two counts of unlawful sexual contact.
Maciag cited “insufficient evidence” for an “essential element of the charges” in that dismissal.
A series of defense motions alleged that the minor has falsely accused other adults and juveniles of physical and sexual assault, and that she had motive to falsely accuse Benner.
Benner crashed a motorcycle April 22, 2018, while he was wanted on an initial charge of gross sexual assault. He suffered a skull fracture and other injuries and was later charged with operating under the influence.
The OUI charge was dismissed in a plea deal involving a conviction for reckless conduct and a $575 fine.
Benner has a prior conviction of domestic violence assault from 2014, when he assaulted a woman, then led deputies on a high-speed chase around Bristol.