When his victim, who is now 10 years old, took the stand, David Henson looked down at the counsel table.
As she started speaking, he wouldn’t look at her, but to his left where deputies were gathered instead.
“You really hurt me,” she told him while giving a victim impact statement Tuesday morning. “I just want you to know that you should feel guilty. That’s all I have to say.”
The day before, though, she took the stand and described the way in which he abused her ‘literally every day,’ in her words, over the course of a year.
The Leader’s policy is to avoid printing the names of victims of sex crimes and limit the details of the abuse, however this case was too graphic even if that were not the policy.
Henson was charged last year in a 27-count indictment – 13 counts of rape of a child, 14 counts of aggravated sexual battery – after accusations were made in January 2017. Munford Police investigated and charged him.
His trial began on Monday with jury selection, then testimony from his victim and the police, a viewing of the filmed forensic interview and the entering of adult novelty items allegedly involved in the incidents into evidence.
As the court proceedings continued, he hung his head and fidgeted in his seat as different sexual acts in which he was accused of engaging with the young girl were discussed. When he wasn’t looking down, he was continually looking over his right shoulder at the mother of his victim, with whom he was romantically involved at the time of the abuse. She was also accused of being a participant, but has not been charged. Both were employed at Millington’s Walmart.
Though the trial was half over, Tuesday morning Henson changed his plea from not guilty to no contest to two Class C felonies – sexual exploitation of a minor – and the Class A felony charge of rape of a child.
Commonly called an Alford plea, the nolo contendere is one in which the defendant accepts conviction as though a guilty plea had been entered but does not admit guilt.
His attorney, Dave Stockton, said Henson maintains his innocence.
He was sentenced to a mandatory minimum 25 years, which will be served day-for-day, and two three-year sentences at 30 percent that will run concurrent with the 25-year sentence.
Henson, now 24, was taken into custody. He will be eligible for release in the year 2043 when he is 49 years old. His victim will be 35.
Henson was also sentenced to community supervision for life on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry as a child rapist following sentence expiration.
“This conviction and sentence demonstrates the continuing commitment of law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office to aggressively investigate and prosecute child rape and sexual abuse cases in this District, especially where there are minor child victims. We are glad that we were able to achieve justice for the victim and the Tipton County community in this case” said District Attorney General Mark Davidson.
The victim was removed from the custody of her mother and now resides with a foster family.