An Antioch man was sentenced to 29 years to life in prison today for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl and attempting to sexually assault a 19-year-old disabled woman in Pittsburg in 2007. Nathan Henderson, 29,was found guilty in December of forcible oral copulation on a child under 14 with an enhancement for committing the lewd act during a kidnapping, and assault with intent to commit oral copulation.Jurors found him not guilty of a kidnapping charge, but instead convicted him of the lesser charge of false imprisonment.The two attacks happened on the morning of Dec. 15, 2007.Shortly before 9:30 a.m., Henderson saw the 19-year-old woman walking in the area of School and Harbor streets near Pittsburg High School and offered her a ride, Deputy District Attorney Satish Jallepalli said during the trial.The woman was less than 5 feet tall and, because of her disability, appeared much younger than she was, Jallepalli said.
She accepted the ride, but as soon as she got in the car, Henderson grabbed her head, pulled it down toward his lap and ordered her to give him oral sex, Jallepalli said.The woman screamed and broke free. Once she got out of the car, she called police and reported the assault.About an hour later, also in front of Pittsburg High School, Henderson spotted his second victim, the 11-year-old girl, according to Jallepalli.Henderson offered the girl a ride and she accepted. As they were driving, Henderson allegedly hit the girl and forced her to give him oral sex, Jallepalli said.After the incident, Henderson drove the girl back to the area where he had found her and dropped her off.A woman saw the girl shortly after she had gotten out of the car and went to see if she was OK.Realizing she had done something she shouldn’t have — accepting a ride from a stranger — the girl burst into tears and told the woman she had been forced into the car, Jallepalli said.The girl lied repeatedly to her parents, police and a counselor because she was ashamed and traumatized by what had happened, Jallepalli said. Henderson’s attorney Timothy Ahearn said during the trial that Henderson had been looking for prostitutes that morning, and that if the encounters did in fact occur, they were consensual.He also suggested that the 11-year-old girl could be blaming Henderson for something someone else did to her.
In Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez today, Ahearn asked the judge to reduce the sentence and argued that, in this case, the recommended sentence would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.Henderson has no criminal record and had been a good husband and a good father and his chance of reoffending within the next 15 years is less than 1 percent, Ahearn said.Davesha Irvin, the mother of Henderson’s 8-year-old son, said Henderson had never been violent or even raised his voice when they were together.”He was the best father in the world,” Irvin said.She said she was shocked by the allegations and her son was extremely upset.She asked the judge for leniency, “not for the sake of him (Henderson), but just for the sake of my son.” Henderson’s wife Shemika Henderson said they had been married for four years and had two daughters, ages 4 and 5.She said she didn’t believe Henderson had done the crimes he was convicted of.”He never touched my kids or nobody else’s kids,” Shemika Henderson said.”I find that troubling and I find that disturbing that Mr. Henderson was able to hide that monster so well,” Jallepalli said later in the hearing.He also said he also believed the fact that Henderson was a father made his crimes worse. “As a father, he damn well should have known better than to do what he did to those little girls,” Jallepalli said.The mother of the 11-year-old victim asked the judge to impose themaximum sentence. She said Henderson had stolen her daughter’s childhood. Since the assault, her daughter has been getting into trouble at school, getting teased by other children and still had nightmares every night that Henderson is choking her and killing her, she said.She said was trying to get counseling for her daughter, but it
hasn’t happened.”Don’t nobody know how my child feels but herself,” the girl’s mother said.The 19-year-old victim also asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence.”I’ve been really scared of people since this happened,” she said.She also said that when police showed her photos of possible suspects, she had been careful to make sure she identified the right man.”I just wanted to say that I’m sorry to the families,” she said, but asked what they would do if they were in her place. “Would you want your attacker loose?”Judge Richard Arnason denied the motion to reduce the sentence and said he found it troubling that he hadn’t seen Henderson express remorse.He did, however, wish Henderson good luck.”I know this is a difficult time for you and your family,” Arnason said. “There’s nothing but sadness in this courtroom.”