Awful West Virginia man who sexually assaulted a three-year-old girl multiple times claimed in a courtroom that it was by ACCIDENT
Henry Vincent Bennett of Bluefield was sentenced 25 to 100 years for each of two first-degree sexual assault charges on Tuesday after court rejected his defense of diminished mental capacity
27-year-old Bennett will spend a minimum 50 years in prison after he was found guilty of incest by a parent against the toddler
Jury convicted Bennett in less than half an hour in a December trial that lasted only two days in the Mercer Circuit Court
He was convicted on six felony counts of first degree sexual assault and first degree sexual abuse
Judge Derek Swope noted problems the child could suffer later in life before sentencing to spend ‘the rest of his effective life’ in prison
At the time of Bennett’s arrest in Feb of 2018 he admitted to one incident involving a sex toy and another involving oral sex
Bennett told police he thought the young girl was his 185-pound wife
At trial he argued he had made a false confession due to low mental capacity, but was forced to repeat the confession on the witness stand under cross-examination
The pedophile’s wife April Bennet, 24, initially charged as an accessory to Bennett’s crimes, later took a deal pleading guilty to a charge of child neglect
A West Virginia man who told police he sexually abused a three-year-old girl several times, by accident, must serve at least 50 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
Mercer Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope noted problems the child could suffer later in life before sentencing 27-year-old Henry Vincent Bennett of Bluefield to 25 to 100 years for each of two first-degree sexual assault charges on Tuesday.
After a two-day trial, it took a jury less than half an hour to convict Bennett of Bluefield, WV, of sexual assault against a three-year-old. Bennett was convicted on six felony counts of first degree sexual assault and first degree sexual abuse.
According to the prosecutor George Sitler, the allegations first came to light in February 2018 when the victim “made incriminating disclosures to family members and a social worker.”
A jury convicted Bennett of sexual assault and other charges in December, after he repeated his confession that he mistook the toddler for his 24-year-old wife.
Prosecutors said Bennett told detectives that he twice mistook the toddler for his wife after she climbed into his bed.
Bennett’s lawyers said his admission to Bluefield police was coerced.
Swope says Bennet will be in prison ‘for the rest of his effective life.’
When Vincent was convicted of sexual abuse by a parent and incest last year, it took the jury less than 30 minutes of deliberation to come to the conclusion that he sexually assaulted a little girl after he confessed on the stand.
Bennett was first arrested in February of 2018, after the toddler told family members and then state child safety workers that she had been sexually abused.
The young girl at one point made a model of a penis out of Play-Doh and said it was Bennett’s ‘butt’, and said that Bennett had put his ‘butt on her butt’, testified Cindy Lambert, a child advocacy worker.
When police first brought Bennett in for questioning, he denied sexually assaulting the three-year-old girl.
Eventually, Bennett confessed to sexually assaulting the girl on two occasions: once involving a sex toy, and once involving oral sex.
During his trial Bennett recanted his initial confession to police, claiming diminished mental capacity instead.
After videos of Bennett’s confession to police were played before the jury at his trial, his lawyer argued that the confession be thrown out because of his diminished mental capacity which made him susceptible to police pressure tactics, the confession therefore was false.
Before tripping up and confessing on the stand, Bennett maintained that his confession had been coerced by his police interviewers, when they promised him he could go home if he just confessed, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported.
Bennett testified that he had been in special education, dropped out of school in ninth grade and twice failed to earn a GED.
Under cross-examination with a recanting Bennett repeatedly denying that his confession to police was true the prosecutor asked him; ‘You thought making up a story would give you can chance to go home?’ Sitler asked, handing Bennett a box of tissues to wipe away his tears. ‘Why did you do it?’
‘Because I was scared,’ Bennett replied.
Sitler then pointed to a table in the courtroom full of sex toys, and reminded Bennett he had told police which one he’d used on the young girl.
The prosecutor then grilled Bennett on how he possibly could have mistaken the tiny girl for his wife.
‘I was laying on my back… I thought it was April, and when I rolled over (the girl) yelled,’ Bennett said, apparently repeating his confession before the jury in a moment that stunned the courtroom.
Both Bennett and his wife, 24-year-old April Bennett, were arrested after the child reported the abuse. April was originally charged as an accessory to Bennett’s crimes, but later took a deal pleading guilty to a charge of child neglect.