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A 51-year-old Little Rock man accused of beating his estranged wife and holding her against her will has been fined $7,500, sentenced to five years of probation and ordered jailed for a month for hitting her so hard she suffered a ruptured eardrum.

Dean Allen Goodson pleaded guilty on Monday to a single charge of second-degree domestic battering for the July 2015 assault on Sharon Bennett. The 40-year-old Conway woman filed for divorce the next day to end their six-year marriage.

Under the plea deal negotiated by defense attorney Bill James, prosecutors dropped four other felony charges, including kidnapping, aggravated assault and an identity-fraud charge. That charge arose from accusations that Goodson had used Bennett's personal identifying information to access her bank account and find out where she was. Bennett told authorities she'd been trying to avoid him.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Barry Sims said he would allow Goodson to serve his jail time on weekends, beginning on Saturday, after James said Goodson needs to be free to run his lawn service business to pay his bills.

Court records show that Goodson has been ordered to pay Bennett $30,000 within the next three months as a condition of their divorce, which was final on Thursday.

The divorce decree also bars him from having any contact with Bennett and their 6-year-old son for the next 10 years.

The judge presiding over their divorce, Mackie Pierce, found that while both Bennett and Goodson had engaged in conduct that would entitle the other party to a divorce, it was Goodson who "engaged in horrific acts of abuse" that inflicted "severe personal injury" on Bennett that forced her to get counseling for both herself and their child.

"Defendant's transgressions far outweigh any bad acts of the plaintiff," Pierce's 10-page order states. "Defendant brutally battered the plaintiff. He offered no defense for his atrocious acts."

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The judge also wrote that, based on how Goodson responded to the divorce petition, he believed that Goodson deliberately drew out the litigation to make it more expensive, to embarrass Bennett and to "increase the emotional turmoil" for her to deal with Goodson's accusations.

Aside from the $30,000 payment, which represents property the couple accrued during their time together, Goodson was also found to owe $14,063 in child support, back-dated to the couple's July 2015 separation, which he must pay at $34 per week on top of an ongoing support obligation of $172 per week. Those amounts were set based on his estimated $1,350 weekly income as owner of Giraffe Tree Service.

Goodson is also required to pay the $12,796 medical and counseling costs Bennett accrued. He will also assume responsibility for an $8,896 credit card debt

The judge stated he'll consider requiring Goodson to also pay the woman's legal expenses for the divorce, which so far are estimated at $41,649 as of February.

According to court files and police reports, Bennett told authorities that Goodson had beat her until she was unconscious that night in July 2015, rupturing her eardrum, after they had been arguing over the state of their relationship. The assault was reported to have been witnessed by both their son and Goodson's 13-year-old daughter.

She also said he poured household cleaner in her eyes during the incident, covered her mouth and nose with a towel, kicked her, put his knee on her neck and told her she was going to leave in a body bag.

She said he choked her so hard that she briefly passed out, court filings show. He had locked her in a room, she said.

Goodson denied wrongdoing, telling police the only time he hit her was a reflex prompted by her throwing things at him. He said he briefly held her down to calm her, releasing her when she regained her self-control.

Bennett was never held against her will, he told police, and that once they had calmed down they resumed a discussion about their relationship.

Metro on 03/17/2017

Print Headline: Man who hit wife gets 1 month; LR husband also fined, sentenced to 5 years of probation

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