By Nathan Baker
Despite entering an Alford guilty plea to a misdemeanor in court Wednesday, former Sheriff John Henson says he has no plans to resign as a county constable.
Henson said his guilty plea Wednesday afternoon in Carter County Criminal Court was not made because he was guilty, but because he wanted to avoid a lengthy trial and a potentially tainted jury pool.
In an Alford plea, the defendant maintains his or her innocence but admits the prosecution has enough evidence to likely prove the charge.
“I’ve stepped on a lot of toes,” the District 6 constable said outside the courtroom after his conviction on simple assault. “I’ve knocked on a lot of doors in this county, and that means there’s a greater chance that I could be convicted by a jury if it went to trial.”
As part of the agreement with prosecutors, Henson, who served as Carter County’s sheriff from 1996 to 2006, was convicted of a misdemeanor instead of his original felony charge of sexual battery. He will serve no jail time, and will instead be on supervised probation for six months, and ordered by Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp to report to a probation officer twice in that period.
“I’m not going to put you in jail, Mr. Henson, it’s not worth it,” Cupp told the acting constable after his guilty plea in open court. “I’m just going to ask you to be a decent human being for the next six months.”