Former Paint Rock ISD school board member guilty of child sex abuse, sentenced to prison
SAN ANGELO — Daniel Wayne Bennett, who served as vice president of Paint Rock ISD, was sentenced to prison Monday, May 3, 2021, after a jury found him guilty of child sexual abuse.
Bennett was indicted in January 2018 on three charges regarding crimes against a child: one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 and two counts of sexual assault of a child.
The trial, presided over by Judge Mike Freeman, began Wednesday, April 26, and lasted five days. A Tom Green County jury found Bennett guilty of all three counts Friday, April 30.
On Monday, the 45-year-old Paint Rock resident received a prison sentence.
The jury sentenced Bennett to 45 years in prison on count one, continuous sexual abuse of a child. Bennett also received a 10-year sentence for each of the two sexual assault charges, according to a news release.
All three sentences will run concurrently, according to the Concho County District Clerk's office. Bennett will not be eligible for parole and will have to serve the entirety of his sentence, according to the Texas government code (Ch. 508.145, Sec. 21.02).
State of Texas vs. Daniel Wayne Bennett
The abuse occurred on and off between August 2009 and July 2013, according to court documents.
In June 2016, a then-recent graduate of Paint Rock High School reported to the Concho County Sheriff’s Office that she had been sexually assaulted by Bennett since she was 11 years old, according to a news release.
"The sexual assaults began in Paint Rock the summer before she entered Junior High, and continued until she turned seventeen," the release stated.
Due to the nature of the offense, the Texas Rangers were asked to assist in the investigation. After obtaining a search warrant for Bennett’s cell phone records, authorities found six years worth of text messages between the victim and Bennett consistent with the victim’s account of how she had been sexually assaulted, a release stated.
During their investigation, authorities identified and located another of Bennett's victims.
A second victim said Bennett sexually assaulted her twice when she was 9 years old, a news release stated.
In January 2018, Bennett was indicted by a Concho County Grand Jury for the offenses of continuous sexual assault of a young child and two counts of sexual assault of a child for his conduct associated with the first victim.
Prior to trial, the State sought and was granted a transfer of venue from Concho to Tom Green County.
After Bennett was sentenced Monday, 119th District Attorney John Best thanked investigators for their hard work as well as Bennett's victims.
"I want to thank both victims for having the courage to come forward and the strength to see this case to conclusion," Best wrote in a news release.
Paint Rock ISD informed in 2018
School administrators were informed by law enforcement officials of Bennett's indictment and arrest in 2018 stemming from a 2016 outcry of abuse, according to an earlier news release from the Paint Rock school district.
The abuse "did not involve any events that took place on school grounds or at school events," according to a district release.
In February 2018, a petition letter submitted during a Paint Rock school board meeting requested Bennett's immediate resignation.
The letter was written by a retired teacher, principal and resident of Concho County, and backed by the signatures of almost three dozen other Concho County residents.
Bennett refused to resign.
The owner and operator of a local construction company, Bennett served on the Paint Rock ISD School board beginning in 2006. He was also on the Concho County Appraisal District's Board of Trustees for several years, according to an earlier news release.
In early 2020, Bennett was among five candidates running for trustee positions on the Paint Rock ISD school board. The three individuals with the most votes in May 2020 were elected to serve three year terms (2020-23), according to a district news release.
On Tuesday, May 4, an attorney for Paint Rock ISD forwarded a copy of Bennett's resignation letter to the Standard-Times.
Bennett resigned from both the school board and the Concho County Appraisal District on the same day a jury sentenced him to prison, writing:
"I, Daniel Wayne Bennett, due to my inability to serve, hereby resign my position on the Paint Rock ISD school board, as well as my position with the Concho County Appraisal District, immediately on May 3, 2021."
Officials with Paint Rock ISD had removed Bennett's name from their official website by noon Tuesday. It wasn't immediately clear how soon his position would be replaced.
John Tufts covers enterprise and investigative topics in West Texas. Send him a news tip at JTufts@Gannett.com.