News and Press Releases

Former nevada postmaster pleads guilty to sex-trafficking conspiracy, admits torturing woman coerced as sex slave

March 24, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Wheatland, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a sex-trafficking conspiracy in which a young, mentally deficient woman was coerced into being a sex slave for several years while she was tortured in a trailer home located in a wooded area in Lebanon, Mo.

            Dennis Henry, 51, of Wheatland, formerly the postmaster of Nevada, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. Henry also pleaded guilty to transporting the victim across state lines for sexual activity.

            By pleading guilty today, Henry admitted that he engaged in sex with the victim, who is identified in court documents as “FV” (female victim), and participated in torture sessions with FV that would last for hours. According to Henry, FV was subject to the most extreme forms of torture he had ever seen. Henry saw pictures of FV’s vagina sewn shut, which he was told was a form of punishment. Punishment also included locking FV in a cage. Henry never asked FV if she needed help and never offered to assist her in any way.

            Henry met FV in 2004, when she was 18 years old. According to today’s plea agreement, Henry believed that FV had been neglected. She also appeared developmentally delayed for someone her age. She did not know how to think for herself. She also took long periods of time to think and comprehend something and had a difficult time keeping up with conversations. Henry saw that FV did not know how to eat with a knife and a fork, and he taught her how to use silverware.

            In 2006, Henry helped transport FV to California for a sexually explicit pornographic photo shoot. The sex toys, machines and devices filled the trunk and backseat of the car, with Henry, FV and another person crowded into the front seat. Henry drove most of the way from Missouri to California, where they stayed in a dirty motel room that was located in front of an alley filled with trash, needles and drug paraphernalia.

            According to Henry, FV became scared when they arrived in California. When she saw the crank phone that was used to administer electric shocks, she withdrew and “melted.” Henry found FV crying in a room. FV told him she hated the crank phone and was worried she would not be able to take the pain. Henry provided approximately $1,400 for this trip to California. At a later date, he provided another $500 for a return trip, which he did not join.

            Henry also admitted that he visited FV at a Lebanon strip club where she was forced to work.

            Co-defendant James Noel, 45, of Springfield, has also pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. Noel admitted that he was one of the customers who sexually abused and tortured FV. Noel watched the victim being tortured and sometimes operated torture devices himself beginning in 2006, when she was approximately 20 years old. For example, Noel knew that FV hated being electrocuted with a crank phone (which was wired inside FV’s vaginal and anal openings and to her toes), which he described as “extremely painful,” but he used it on her anyway.

            Both of the defendants’ plea agreements require them to cooperate with the government, including providing information or testifying at trial. Neither plea agreement provides any credit to the defendants for substantial assistance.

            Under federal statutes, Henry is subject to a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cynthia L. Cordes, Paul Becker and John Cowles. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.

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