Henry Vincent Bennett, Bluefield, West Virginia man sentenced to at least 50 years jail after sexually abusing three-year-old girl he ‘accidentally’ mistook for his wife.
A Bluefield, West Virginia man who claimed having sexually abused a three-year-old girl (twice) after ‘accidentally’ mistaking the child for his wife- must serve at least 50 years jail before being eligible for parole.
In his judgement- Mercer Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope noted problems the child could suffer later in life before sentencing Henry Vincent Bennett, to 25 to 100 years for each of two first-degree sexual assault charges on Tuesday.
A jury convicted Bennett, 27, of sexual assault and other charges in December, after he repeated his confession that he mistook his toddler daughter for his 24-year-old wife, April- the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported.
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.
Henry Vincent Bennet daughter reveals being sexually assaulted by ‘daddy’:
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.
Bennett relented- confessing to sexually assaulting the girl on two occasions: once involving a sex toy, and once involving oral sex.
Bennett told police that both incidents were accidents, after the toddler crawled into the bed while his wife was away in the bathroom.
Henry Vincent Bennett claims mistaking 30 pound child for his 185 pound wife two times.
He claimed he mistook the 30-pound girl for his 185-pound wife both times.
In the first instance he said he he ‘accidentally’ placed a sex toy in the toddler’s buttocks.
The second time, he said his wife was performing oral sex on him, and then got up to go to the bathroom. He claimed the girl came into the room and began performing oral sex on him before he realized she was not his wife.
The case took a dramatic twist when Bennett, who had claimed police pressured him into a false confession, slipped up on the witness stand and repeated his confession in front of the jury.
‘It’s a TV moment. It’s a thing that happens on crime shows like Perry Mason,’ prosecutor George Sitler told WVVA after the trial.
‘You wait your whole career to get somebody to actually confess to what they’re accused of on the stand, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen it happen,’ the prosecutor added.
During testimony, Bennett’s lawyer argued that his client’s diminished mental capacity made him susceptible to police pressure tactics, and that the confession was false.
Before confessing on the stand, Bennett said that his confession to police had been coerced, when he said 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 by the prosecutor Sitler, Bennett repeatedly denied that his confession to police was true.
‘You thought making up a story would give you can chance to go home?’ Sitler asked. ‘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 asked 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.