Henry Vincent Bennett, a pedophile, said he assaulted his 3-year-old daughter because he thought she was his wife.
In less than 30 minutes, a jury in Bluefield, West Virginia, found him guilty.
Bennett was found guilty of six felony counts of first-degree sexual assault and first-degree sexual abuse after a two-day trial at the end of 2018.
Bennett is said to have told detectives that, after his 3-year-old daughter crawled into his bed, he kept mistaking her for his 24-year-old wife.
At the Mercer County Courthouse, where the sentence was given, Judge Derek Swope said, “I’m not putting him in jail for the rest of his life, but for the rest of his effective life.”
When the child’s family found out about the abuse, they called in child protection workers, and Bennett was taken into custody in February 2018.
Henry Vincent Bennett, 26, of Bluefield, was taken into custody after detectives from the Bluefield Police Department looked into a 3-year-old girl’s claims that she had been sexually abused. The girl had told family members and state child advocacy workers that she had been abused.
In one comment, the child said that Bennett had put his “butt on her butt.” Cindy Lambert from the group Second Chances, which helps children, said in court that the child also made a Play-Doh penis and said it was Bennett’s “butt.”
When Detective J.B. Fox of the Bluefield Police Department, who is now a trooper with the West Virginia State Police in Wyoming County, asked Bennett if he had sexually abused the 3-year-old, he first said no. He went on to say that the child got into bed by accident while his wife went to the bathroom. This led to two midnight sex events in his bedroom, one with a sex toy and the other with oral sex. The jury heard recordings of the interviews.
In West Virginia, a person can spend anywhere from 25 to 100 years in prison for sexual assault in the first degree. The prosecutor, George Sitler, says that each charge of sexual abuse could lead to 5–15 years in jail, while incest could lead to 10–20 years in jail.
Hager asked Bennett about the two times he had met with Detective Fox. Bennett said that while he was being taken to the police station, an officer told him that he could go home if he confessed. No promise was made in any of the interviews that were recorded. Bennett kept saying that the confession he gave to the police was not true.
Bennett was also asked about the sex toys, which he said he kept out of the kids’ reach. He said that the child got into the unlocked bedroom while he and his wife were using them.
During Sitler’s cross-examination, Bennett wept and denied that he had sexually assaulted the child, claiming that he had fabricated the confession so he could go home.
“You believed making up a narrative would give you the opportunity to return home?” Sitler inquired. “Why did you do it?”
Because I was afraid, replied Bennett.
Bennett had identified the sex object used in one of the incidents, according to Sitler, who indicated a nearby table containing numerous sex devices. Sitler then questioned Bennett on how, in the dark, he could have confused a 185-pound woman for a 30-pound 3-year-old.
In the end, Bennett admitted to abusing the girl sexually twice, once involving a sex toy, and once involving oral sex, according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
Bennett testified that he dropped out of school in the ninth grade, received special education, and made two unsuccessful attempts to obtain his GED. As he was being questioned by attorney Earl Hager, who represented him along with attorney Brandon Austin, he stated that his wife’s mother, who brought up some of the allegations, had never approved of him and had attempted to separate him and his wife, April Bennett.
Prior to becoming eligible for parole, he was sentenced to at least 50 years in prison. “I’m not keeping him up for life, but for the remainder of his effective life.” Judge stated.