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Abuse charges drove county GOP chair to resign

Published March 27, 2014 3:59 pm

Allegations • Chad Bennion faces six misdemeanor counts involving spouse.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Facing a half-dozen domestic-violence charges, the chairman of the Salt Lake County Republican Party stepped down last week in an attempt, he said, to spare his family embarrassment and protect his now ex-wife.

Chad Bennion submitted his resignation March 19, a day before the GOP caucuses, citing an undisclosed family issue.

The issue was a group of class B misdemeanor domestic-violence charges filed earlier this month against Bennion, stemming from an early February incident with his then-wife.

"I stepped down to deal with these challenges with my children," Bennion said Wednesday. "I love them more than anything. It's a challenging time for my family, and I'm not going to say anything to cause more challenges or difficulties for someone I care about. I've got to protect my children."

Prosecutors are alleging one count of assault, plus five additional counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child — one for each of five children in the home at the time of the alleged altercation, in which Bennion allegedly grabbed his wife by the arm and pushed her onto a couch, leaving a bruise.

The charges were filed March 7 in Murray's Justice Court, four days after the couple's divorce was finalized. Chad Bennion had filed for divorce in mid-February from his third wife, about two weeks after police were called to the Murray home because of the purported domestic incident.

Court records show the judge agreed to waive the statutory 90-day waiting period for Utah divorces.

Additional court records show Suzette Bennion has been dealing with her own abuse charges, in her case involving the children in the marriage.

Last September, she pleaded guilty to a class B misdemeanor count of child abuse and was sentenced to probation. But before her sentencing, she allegedly twice violated a child protective order. Last November, she was charged with two counts of violating the order and a class B misdemeanor count of child abuse after allegedly becoming violent with one child.

In 2006, Chad Bennion agreed to the terms of a protective order with his second wife after their divorce, while denying her allegations he had abused her, according to court documents. During divorce proceedings with his first wife 10 years earlier, both parties sought protective orders against the other.

gehrke@sltrib.com