When Terry Henderson turned himself in Monday, he became the fifth Gwinnett County sheriff's deputy to be arrested since the start of 2012.
Four of those cases, including Henderson's, have involved alleged sexual encounters with inmates.
"While I am extremely disappointed with the actions of Terry Henderson," Gwinnett Sheriff Butch Conway said in a news release, "I am mindful of the many deputies who serve our community each day with excellence."
Such a statement has become a familiar refrain.
Henderson — a 40-year-old, 12-year veteran of Conway's department — was fired Sept. 26 and turned himself in Monday at the Butts County jail. It's in that county, about 50 miles southeast of Atlanta, where authorities believe Henderson "digitally penetrated" a female inmate while transporting her from south Georgia to Gwinnett.
The incident is alleged to have happened somewhere on I-75 on Sept. 13. The inmate came forward with allegations the next day.
Her outcry eventually made Henderson the fifth Gwinnett deputy arrested in less than five years:
— In February 2012, Deputy Duone Clark was arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a transgender inmate. He later resigned and, in 2015, the inmate won a $200,000 civil suit against him.
— In 2014, Deputy Lisa Ziglar was indicted on charges alleging that she engaged in a consensual — but illegal — sexual relationship with a female inmate at the jail.
— On April 13, 2015, Deputy Dennis Day was arrested and fired after allegedly "inappropriately (touching) three inmates in a sexual manner." Those incidents are alleged to have occurred over a nine-month period.
— Another deputy, Trenell Bullock, was arrested last October after co-workers allegedly found methamphetamine inside his home while serving him "administrative paperwork."
Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Shannon Volkodav said her department investigated the complaint against Henderson and presented its findings to the Butts County District Attorney's Office. That office decided to charge Henderson with violation of oath of office and sexual assault.
A Butts County Superior Court judge granted Henderson a $40,000 bond Tuesday. It was not immediately clear if he had posted it.
Volkodav said Henderson's alleged victim "made no allegation of force or coercion by the deputy" but, legally, that doesn't matter. Under Georgia law, people in positions of authority — such as law enforcement officers, health care professionals and teachers — can be charged with sexual assault even if sexual encounters with a person under that authority are consensual.
"Our deputies receive exhaustive training on state and federal laws regarding supervision of persons in custody," Volkodav said. "They are well aware that an inmate in their custody cannot give consent for sexual activity of any nature and that the penalty for such behavior is termination and criminal prosecution."
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter, whose office has prosecuted deputy arrests in the past, said such allegations aren't "a new phenomenon" or "unique to this department."
"I think when you have that many inmates and deputies that are in close contact, you run the risk of them having inappropriate contact," Porter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. "But when you look at the total number of inmates and total number of deputies, the numbers [of incidents] are small."
About the Author