Matthew Henderson, a Wichita parolee convicted of sexual abuse in a 2005 case involving his three underage sisters, was charged Tuesday with sexually abusing another Wichita child under age 14.
Marc Bennett, the Sedgwick County district attorney, confirmed that the Wichita woman who turned Henderson in to authorities in 2005 and rescued the girls from abuse also was involved in this new case.
Henderson, 27, was sent to prison in 2005 and became eligible for parole in 2012. He was released in Lyon County on June 20 of that year, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records.
On Tuesday afternoon – in the same courthouse where he was convicted of assaulting his sisters – he was charged with one count of raping a 12-year-old girl sometime between Dec. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2013. He is accused in the criminal charging document of engaging “unlawfully … in the act of sexual intercourse with a child” younger than 14.
The crime is considered a Jessica’s Law offense, which means he could go to prison for 25 years to life this time if convicted.
The 2005 case is well known because Henderson’s twin sisters, Kellie and Kathie, went public about the abuse in a 2010 Eagle series “Promise Not to Tell.” They, along with their younger sister, Rachelle, later appeared on an hour-long segment of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” to encourage other child sex abuse victims to speak out.
Police and prosecutors said the twins’ father, Brad Henderson, and their two older brothers, Andrew and Matt, sexually abused the twins from the time they were 3 until 2005 when they were 13.
That case came to light in 2005 when the twins learned that one of the brothers had also begun sexually abusing their younger sister. The twins confided in a Wichita neighbor, Shelly Vasey, even though Andrew had threatened their safety if they ever told.
Vasey and her husband, Jim, contacted police, who arrested the father and brothers.
Matthew Henderson, the youngest of the perpetrators, was 17 when prosecutors charged him with five counts of rape and one count of aggravated criminal sodomy in July 2005. He pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and was granted leniency – 96 months’ prison time – in his sentencing.
His father and brother each are serving a 27 1/2-year prison term for their roles in the sexual assault, according to court records.
Bennett confirmed that Shelly Vasey was also involved in this latest case.
Vasey said a woman she knew told her that Henderson had raped her underage daughter, but the woman did not want to call police. Vasey said she demanded that the mother call police, and when she refused, Vasey told her she’d call police herself. The mother then called the police, she said.
By that time, Matthew Henderson was already sitting in the Lyon County Jail, facing charges for violating his parole. He was staying at a girlfriend’s home rather than his own place, failed to report as ordered to his parole officer and had an unauthorized Facebook account under a false name, according to court records.
Originally charged with 10 criminal offenses in March, he pleaded guilty to two counts – violation of the Kansas offender registration act and attempted violation of the offender registration act – and was sentenced to 47 months in prison.
The plea came about two weeks before Vasey contacted Bennett on May 29 about the new rape allegations.
Bennett said he could not discuss the current case.
In general, he said, it is not uncommon for people to fail to report sexual abuse cases out of fear, or reluctance to report family members. Failing to report is always wrong, he said.
One reason Vasey said she demanded the mother report this case was that she herself delayed by one day reporting the 2005 case to authorities because the sisters had asked her not to tell.
In that one-day delay, Kathie Henderson was raped again.
Vasey said she has never forgiven herself for that one-day delay.
“So I was not going to make that same mistake again,” Vasey said on Tuesday. “If people even suspect that something is going on, they need to call the police right away and let them investigate.”