Motion to drop domestic violence injunction against Becnel is denied

Tom McLaughlin
Damon Richard Becnel

FORT WALTON BEACH — A request to dismiss a domestic violence injunction order against prominent Destin businessman Damon Becnel was denied Wednesday by Okaloosa County Circuit Court Judge John J. Gontarek.

RELATED: Becnel abuse charges spark community backlash, custody dispute in Destin

Gontarek did agree to delay further discussion of the domestic violence injunction order until after a criminal case against Becnel, who faces charges of child abuse and cruelty to animals, has been adjudicated.

The request to dismiss the injunction was filed by Allison Tringas, Becnel’s ex-wife, on behalf of the former couple’s 14-year-old daughter. Tringas’ request for injunction was granted Jan. 2, the same day Becnel was taken into custody for striking the teen and beating her dog.

Susan Stanford, the attorney representing Tringas, sought the dismissal.

Stanford said her client had decided to move to dismiss the injunction on behalf of her daughter in part because Becnel has two similar orders presently barring him from contact with his daughter.

“We just really didn’t want to deal with overkill,” she said.

Stanford said the teen also wants to avoid continued media scrutiny of her family. The Becnel case drew national attention after a video of his alleged assault on the child and the dog was released to the public.

Gontarek called the 14-year-old into court to explain to her that she is protected now by three protective orders that prevent her father from contacting her.

One has been issued in conjunction with the criminal case, the second was issued when the request for a domestic violence injunction was filed and the third exists as part of a pending dependency case.

Gontarek told Stanford he was rejecting the request to dismiss the domestic violence injunction because “this hearing is to protect the child.”

Becnel, who has been battling Tringas over child custody issues since 2005, was not present in court Wednesday. His attorney, Seth Rutman, told Gontarek his client has traveled out of state where he has sought rehabilitation and mental health counseling.

“Mr. Becnel is obviously utterly ashamed of himself,” Rutman said. “He’s doing what he can do.”