A serial groper who stalks petite women walking alone in Winnipeg's downtown has just narrowly avoided being sent to federal prison.
Charley Henderson, 21, was handed a 27-month jail term Friday for two counts of sexual assault and one of indecent exposure dating back to March and April.
Six months of time served was deducted, keeping Henderson in the provincial jail system for the next 21 months.
"The predictors of his future behaviour are not good in terms of his risk," provincial court Judge Fred Sandhu said.
On March 27, Henderson followed a woman into The Bay downtown, lifted her skirt and groped her buttocks after asking if she had the time, Crown attorney Kusham Sharma said. She screamed and fled to security to report what happened.
A few days later, on April 1, he stalked a woman walking in a walkway connected to Portage Place mall by following her while pleasuring himself. The victim got on an elevator alone and just narrowly missed Henderson jumping onto the lift as the doors closed on him, Sharma said.
He was arrested soon after an April 3 incident where a woman leaving the Staples store downtown glimpsed Henderson attempting to grab her buttocks on an escalator. He didn't make contact with the woman, Sandhu was told. None of his victims suffered physical injuries.
Henderson was on supervised probation at the time and had been released early from provincial jail after being convicted last December of eerily similar sexual offences.
In addition to a major drug problem, Henderson suffers from significant mental health issues. The drug habit, combined with his psychological problems, trigger his offending, Sandhu heard.
The Crown asked the court to send Henderson to federal prison and possibly to a locked psychiatric facility in Saskatchewan, but Sandhu elected to give him a chance to engage with sex-offender treatment offered by the province at Headingley jail. After that he'll serve another three years of probation under the eyes of the Criminal Organization High Risk Offenders Unit within Manitoba Corrections.
Henderson's track record of engaging with programming and treatment, however, is poor, court heard. Probation officers say he's a high risk to reoffend sexually and a very high risk to reoffend violently.
A risk assessment puts the chances at 50-50 that he'll reoffend in the next decade, and Henderson is considered in the top 12 per cent risk category for male sex offenders.
His upbringing was marred by dysfunction and his own mother abandoned him at age 14 by moving without telling him, defence lawyer Gisele Champagne. That led him to become essentially homeless and dependent on others for support — and they just fed him drugs, she said.
"He's committed to improving his behaviour," she said.