Susan Collins' Primary Opponent Erick Bennett Threatened To Kill His Wife: Report

01/24/2014 12:28 pm ET | Updated Jan 24, 2014

Erick Bennett, a political consultant challenging Sen. Susan Collins in Maine's Republican primary, was convicted on charges of domestic assault against his wife in 2004.

Mother Jones published a report Friday revealing that Bennett's then-wife Angela filed a report with the Bangor police, detailing the attack on the night of Jan. 16, 2004. In the report, she states that Bennett "repeatedly" assaulted her, squeezed her neck and threatened to kill her in front of the couple's young children.

"I knew I couldn't argue with him or he would hurt me worse," Angela wrote. "This isn't the 1st time he has hurt me. He tries to find excuses to hurt me. Fighting back makes him say I am the crazy one and he has to defend himself."

Angela subsequently moved with her children to her parents' home. In May that same year, Bennett was found guilty of assault and sentenced to 60 days in prison. According to Mother Jones, a judge later waived the sentence and instead ordered Bennett to one year's probation and the completion of a batterer's intervention program.

Bennett denied his wife's version both in court and in an interview with Mother Jones, in which he said his former wife initiated the attack and he simply tried to stop her. His efforts to fight the charges were denied by the Supreme Court of Maine in 2004.

Bennett has spoken openly about his conviction while running for office, saying it has motivated him to reform domestic violence laws that he believes allow for fraud. But the details of Bennett's domestic assault case had not previously been reported, and will do little to help his cause in an ambitious bid to unseat Collins -- a moderate Republican who is hardly seen as vulnerable.

A November poll by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found that Collins is widely favored for reelection, holding a 14-point lead over her Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows, among Democrats. Republicans are less favorable toward Collins, with 44 percent saying they'd vote for a more conservative candidate, but the survey noted she lacked a serious challenger.

Rick Bennett, the chairman of Maine's Republican Party who has no relation to Erick Bennett, has rebuked his candidacy, saying he would "be surprised if [Erick] gets a sufficient number of Republicans in Maine to sign nomination papers to put him on the ballot." Rick also condemned Erick in December for writing a series of offensive Facebook posts, in which Erick called Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) a "closet homo" and compared the late Nelson Mandela to Communist dictator Joseph Stalin.

"I find those comments personally reprehensible, and I’ve heard people from across the political spectrum in Maine who share their abhorrence with those views," Rick said. "They do not represent the views of the Republican Party."

Read the full police report at Mother Jones.

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