Ex-case worker is sentenced in obstruction
A former case manager at Mesa County Community Corrections was sentenced Tuesday to serve 80 hours of useful public service for having an alleged sexual relationship with a former client.
The sentence came amid questions about whether the original, felony charges filed in the case were permissible under Colorado law.
Annette Henson, 38, now a resident of Aurora, pleaded guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor obstructing government operations, while the Mesa County District Attorney’s office moved to dismiss Henson’s original charges, two counts of felony sexual conduct in a penal institution.
Deputy District Attorney David Waite said his office entered into the agreement because, at the time of Henson’s warrant arrest, it was “unclear” as to whether Community Corrections met the legal definition of a “criminal justice facility” under Colorado law for the purpose of pressing felony charges.
District Judge Thomas Deister said the Legislature removed all doubt by amending the statute in July 2010 to include Community Corrections facilities in the definition. The change happened two months after Henson’s arrest, the judge noted.
“If nothing else, you violated the rules of your employment,” Deister said before sentencing.
Henson was fired from her post.
Henson struck up a relationship with a Community Corrections client after the man confided work problems to her, according to an arrest affidavit. Within weeks, she gave the man her home phone number, and they started talking every day, after hours.
In January 2010, they met at a Clifton bus station and drove to Palisade, where they had sex, the affidavit said. The man told investigators he traveled to Palisade under the auspices of using a pass from Community Corrections to find work.
In a second encounter, he said he used his work pass again to meet Henson in her personal vehicle in a Wal-Mart parking lot, where they had sex.
The man told investigators Henson did not give him any “special considerations or treatment,” but he claimed Henson gave him hundreds of dollars to buy clothing and shoes, the affidavit said.
On Tuesday, Henson told the judge she has no contact with the man.
“She allowed herself to be taken advantage of,” said Steve Colvin, Henson’s public defender, who told the judge Henson remains embarrassed over the affair.
She dreamed of pursuing a career as a corrections officer, Colvin said, adding, “For obvious reasons, that’s not going to happen now.”
Deister ordered Henson to serve 56 days in the Mesa County Jail, but suspended the term if she can complete the community service sentence within a year.