Today's Paper Search Latest New app In the news Traffic #Gazette200 Paper Trails Listen Digital replica FAQ Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles + Games Archive
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption Robert Nathan Hensley - Photo by Pulaski County sheriff's office

A twice-convicted child-sex offender from Cabot was sentenced Tuesday to 35 years in federal prison for his March 5 jury conviction on three charges stemming from an online FBI sting operation in October 2017.

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright sentenced Robert Nathan Hensley, 57, on his convictions for attempted enticement of a minor, attempted production of child pornography and possession of child pornography.

Because of two convictions for sex crimes involving children, the sentence was the mandatory minimum required under federal statutes. He faced potential sentences of up to 20 years on the possession charge and up to life in prison on the other two charges. The guidelines, which take into account multiple factors, including a person's criminal history, recommended a sentence between 324 months, or 27 years, to 405 months, or 33.75 years.

In a jury trial in Wright's Little Rock courtroom in the spring, the divorced father and grandfather contended his intentions were misunderstood when he responded in October 2017 to a Craigslist ad that was posted by undercover agents trying to catch child predators. He insisted that by corresponding with agents posing as a man traveling from Texas to Tennessee with his 14-year-old daughter, and offering to sell sex with the daughter, he didn't really intend to pay to have sex with the girl.

In a letter that he submitted to the court and sent to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, he said that as a reformed child molester, he only wanted to help authorities catch the father.

"Several years ago I woke up, I was in prison," the letter began. "I realized I was an embarrassment to my victims, family, friends and a disease to society. I knew I had a problem, I was where I belong."

He said he signed up for a yearlong prison Reduction of Sexual Violence program, and, "I completed that program dedicated to change. I learned a lot of things very important to my behavior." He said he adopted the program's motto, "No more victims;" and after learning the definition of integrity, decided "that's going to be me."

Once released from prison after four years, he said, he desired human contact but found it difficult, as a registered sex offender, to date the kind of woman he wanted to date.

"So I turned to the Internet," he said. But "those websites are covered with men seeking women and I have nothing special to offer." He called himself "an older, overweight man going bald."

"So," he said, "I study posting many variety of ads until I posted [Dominatrix] man fulfilling submission fantasies on an adult web site." He said he was surprised to receive "an overwhelming number of responses," and even though he actually had no interest in the sexual game of domination and submission, "I studied and learned what Doms do," to get attention. He said that as a result, "every now and then a woman will meet and play."

Hensley, who ran a heating and air conditioning business in Cabot, responded to the agents' online ad, "young, fresh, petite," and during several rounds of conversation over an 18-hour period in which he questioned whether he was communicating with law enforcement officers, he bragged about having a home-made "sex machine" that he could use on the girl. He even offered to buy the girl for $3,000 and give her "a lifetime of bondage and sex."

He contended at trial that he called a hotline for exploited children and was given advice on how to ensnare the person he was chatting with online, which is what he was doing when caught. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Bryant said that while there was evidence that Hensley had contacted the hotline, he wouldn't have been told how to catch a perpetrator. She said it was his "sexual appetite," and not a sense of duty, that led the agents to him.

After his arrest, FBI agents searched Hensley's laptop and uncovered three images of child pornography, which led to the possession charge. But an FBI computer expert testified that a computer cleaning program had been activated before the forensic examination, either automatically or by Hensley, and could have erased any other illegal images from the hard drive.

Hensley's criminal history included a 1996 conviction for sexual solicitation of a child and a 2003 conviction for criminal attempt to engage children in sexually explicit conduct.

Wright ordered a lifetime of supervised release after the completion of the 35-year sentence, in which parole is unavailable.

Metro on 07/03/2019

Print Headline: Child-porn sentence is 35 years; Arkansas man claimed he responded to ad in bid to catch predators

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

You must be signed in to post comments

Comments

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT