A 54-year-old Sherman man will have to wait until March to find out how much time he will face in prison for aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child sexual contact.
Carroll Gene Henderson frowned at jurors as the guilty verdicts were read, but otherwise showed no emotion about the sentence that ended the three-day trial in the 59th state District Court. He faces up to life in prison for the crimes.
Henderson was accused of putting his finger inside the vagina of a 6-year-old girl and squeezing the buttocks of another girl to sexually gratify himself while he was babysitting the children at an apartment on Travis Street in Sherman in January 2018.
The girl’s mother, who testified that she thought of Henderson as a father figure and had known and trusted him for more than ten years, came home to find her child sitting atop Henderson in bed with Henderson moving the child over his private areas. She took the child into the bathroom and asked her what was going on. The answer led the mother to throw Henderson from the home. The police were later called and an investigation began.
Henderson’s attorney Jeromie Oney announced that his client had elected to go to the judge for punishment, so the mainly male jurors did not get to determine what penalty Henderson will face. State District Judge Larry Phillips said a presentence report has been ordered in the case and could take as long as three weeks to complete. A tentative sentencing date has been set for March 7, though that could change.
What is not going to change, Phillips told the jurors before they left, is the fact that Henderson will remain behind bars while that report is compiled.
Henderson opted not to take the stand in his own defense, so the only thing that the jury heard from him was the videotaped confession he gave to a Sherman Police investigator last year. In that nearly hour-long statement, Henderson at first denied touching two girls and boasted that he thinks people who sexually abuse children should be eligible for the death penalty. He then said he had been struggling with his own mental health in the weeks leading up to the crimes at issue in the interview and finally confessed to doing exactly what the children had alleged that he did.
During his closing argument, Oney had asked the jury to put aside the emotions they were likely to feel after hearing the children testify about what they had been through and allow logic to rule the day. He asked them to hold the prosecution to their duty of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of the case. He said the evidence that was presented didn’t prove that his client touched the child in pursuit of gratification.
Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Britton Brooks asked the jury to think about Henderson’s confession and the testimony from the children involved and find Henderson guilty of the charges he faced.
“(Carroll) Henderson is our worst nightmare,” Brooks said. He said sitting there in court Henderson didn’t look at intimidating, but to a young child who saw him as a trusted family member, he was “insurmountable.”
Oney declined to comment about the case citing the pending sentencing hearing.
“Gene Henderson is every parent’s worst nightmare. He sexually victimized at least five children that we know about an has no remorse for his crimes. Anytime a monster like this is caught, you have to put him down,” Brooks said of Henderson after the trial.