A Connecticut jury awarded the ex-wife of former Bush White House deputy counsel John Michael Farren $28 million in damages after Farren brutally attacked her with a flashlight when she asked for a divorce.

The assault occurred back in 2010, when Mary Margaret Farren served her husband with divorce papers. He begged her to reconsider but when she told him she'd only consider counseling, he attacked her in a rage with a Maglite. At one point she passed out, only to wake up to him choking her.

She was able to secretly activate their New Canaan home's panic alarm — summoning police — and escape to a neighbor's house.

Mrs. Farren was eventually hospitalized with a broken jaw, nose and other injuries. Her husband was charged with attempted murder and spent six months in jail before he was released on a $750,000 bond — down from his original $2 million bail.

Farren was apparently representing himself in the matters, but stopped showing up to court after the jury was selected. On the day the trial was set to begin, he emailed the judge saying that he had entered a Hartford, Connecticut-area hospital. He did not give a reason why.

In his absence, the judge entered a default ruling last week.

There's speculation that Farren may be trying to prep an insanity defense for his upcoming criminal trial — he told prosecutors that doctors found evidence of a "brain defect or disease" in an MRI during a preliminary hearing this summer.

Before his arrest, Farren had held multiple high-profile positions, starting out as George H.W. Bush's undersecretary of commerce before joining Xerox as a corporate vice president and general counsel.

But after his most recent stint in the White House as a deputy counsel under 43, Farren appeared to have lost his way. According to a 2010 New York Times piece on the assault:

That chapter of Mr. Farren’s government career came to what seemed like an abrupt end. He left the job suddenly a few weeks before the 2008 presidential election, although the White House had expected top aides to stay until the end.

At the time, Mr. Farren had told an acquaintance that he wanted to leave before the administration turned over, to get a jump on the job market. If so, his plans might have changed; he has not worked full time since. On Thursday, the bail commissioner reported to the court that Mr. Farren was “retired.”

Farren faces up to 70 years on the attempted murder, first-degree assault, and risk of injury to a minor charges.

[image via LinkedIn]