After tearful, emotional and disturbing testimony Tuesday in District Court, a former sailor was sentenced to more than 19 years in prison.
Michael Henderson, 26, received a sentence of 92 to 230 months, which equates to seven years, eight months to 19 years, 11 months, after he plead guilty in April to one count of attempted lewdness with a child under 14.
Henderson abused the victim, a 12-year-old girl at the time, on Aug. 17, 2012, when she stayed at the sailor’s home for a sleepover with one of Henderson’s children.
The victim’s parents gave heartfelt testimony and described how their child went from an outgoing, trusting and loving individual, to one who has shut down emotionally.
The victim’s mother told the court after the attack, her daughter has cut herself with razor blades, a statement that shocked Churchill County District Attorney Art Mallory. In addition, the psychological damage includes blackouts, re-occurring dreams, panic attacks and is fearful of men and boys including her father.
“She has a hard time with any male figure,” the victim’s mother said. “She was so full of life and fearless because she was safe and secure. I don’t want my baby to be scared anymore.”
The girl’s nightmare began two days before the family was set to move from Nevada. Henderson put his arm around the child while the two were on the couch and according to a statement from the victim read by Mallory said, “I had a bad feeling when he put his arm around me.”
Henderson, who is married, attempted to touch the legs, back and buttocks of the girl.
During his argument, Mallory said Henderson admitted to being attracted to the girl and that she turned him on.
The victim’s father, meanwhile, said the outcome of Henderson’s actions have been horrific. He said his daughter has only hugged him twice since the incident, and “she cringed” both times.
According to the plea agreement, Henderson’s attorney, Jacob Sommer, was not allowed to argue for probation, although the Department of Parole and Probation’s pre-sentence report stated Henderson was eligible.
Sommer stressed to Judge Tom Stockard the laws and protocols in place did not require a prison sentence.
In addition, Sommer countered Mallory’s claims that his client does not take responsibility. Sommer said his client realized the gravity of his actions and would never engage in such acts again.
“The range of punishments are there for a reason,” Sommer said.
Henderson spoke to the court and apologized for his actions. He said there is no excuse for what transpired and he should be appropriately punished.
“No matter how many times I say I’m sorry, I cannot give back the freedom to the girl and her family,” Henderson said. “I am really sorry.”