The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local News

December 11, 2013

County man acquitted in sexual assault trial

PALESTINE —

Following a 2 1/2 day trial, and about 15 minutes of deliberations, an Anderson County jury found a Slocum man not guilty of the charge of sexual assault last week for a 2010 incident in which he was accused of relationship rape.

Benny Earl Hodge, 50, was acquitted of the charge by a five-woman, seven-man jury in the court of State District Judge Pam Foster Fletcher on Thursday.

Palestine attorney Josh Liles represented the defendant, while assistant district attorneys Elizabeth Watkins and Scott Holden — part of the county's Violence Against Women team — represented the state.

“It was basically a case of her word against his,” Watkins said. “Scott and I have had a large amount of training on these type of cases (relationship or date rape) and they can be extremely hard to try.

“This is the first one we have tried in Anderson County in a while.”

According to attorneys, the case stemmed from an incident investigated by the Palestine Police Department in July 2010, during which the victim alleged that Hodge had raped her.

“The two knew each other for 30 years and had been dating for about six or seven months prior to the incident,” Watkins explained. “The woman testified that Hodge had called and asked to come over earlier in the day and several hours later, utilized his physical strength to overcome her and rape her.”

Testifying for the state were Palestine Police officer Patsy Smith (who was a detective for the PPD at the time) and officer Chase Scarborough as well as SANE Nurse Misty Perminter, out of Trinity Mother Francis Hospital in Tyler.

“Perminter testified that there were no physical findings during the examination, but that was not uncommon in women of child-bearing age,” Watkins said. “(Perminter) reported she did find sexual assault by history, based on what the victim had told her.”

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