COVINGTON - District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson has been serving a jail sentence for a contempt of court charge related to non-compliance with a court-ordered juvenile program for his son.
Henderson has been serving an 80-hour jail sentence in 10-hour increments for "quite a while," he said. Henderson along with his wife, Sandy, was sentenced for contempt of court by Rockdale County Juvenile Court Judge William Schneider, who was called in to handle the case due to Henderson's status in the community as an elected official.
The contempt of court charge stems from Henderson not taking one of his sons to a court-mandated juvenile program. The matter dates back to 2010, according to Henderson. He said he has been serving his time for in 10-hour increments about every two months.
"If I'm going to jail over something I had no control over and I know I didn't do anything wrong, I don't mind going to jail," he said.
Henderson said he could not make his son attend the juvenile program as ordered. At the time a student at Eastside High School, Henderson said his son would leave school and would not be present after school when he was picked up to attend the program.
"We couldn't get him there on time because we didn't know where he was at," Henderson said.
"I, like most parents, don't have control of my children. I can tell him and he can stop and listen for a minute, but he will do exactly what he wants to do. You can take a horse to water but you can't make him drink," he added.
Henderson said he is nearly finished serving his jail time. He said he did not know his wife's sentence. At the jail, "I specifically requested that I didn't want special treatment and I don't," he said. "I'm no better than anybody else."
Authorities with Newton County Juvenile Court would not release documents regarding the contempt of court charge against Henderson, citing an exemption of juvenile court proceedings under the Open Records Act.
Henderson said he has five sons. Henderson said the child in question is not his stepson, Quintarious Henderson, who has been arrested multiple times. In January 2010 Quintarious Henderson was arrested and charged with aggravated stalking after he violated a court order to stay away from the residence of the then-12-year-old girl. Those charges were reduced to criminal trespass. Quintarious Henderson was also arrested in March 2011 and charged with terroristic threats and acts in connection with threats he made against the family of the young girl.
J.C. Henderson was arrested in October 2009 and charged with battery under the Family Violence Act, a misdemeanor, after an alleged family fight. The charge was later dropped because there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Henderson struck his wife, according to Marsha Cole, senior assistant district attorney for the Piedmont Judicial Circuit, who handled the case. Cole said Henderson's wife refused to pursue the case.
"The state is not convinced that the injury to Mrs. Henderson was merely an accident and is not convinced J.C. Henderson had no part in striking his wife or otherwise directly causing injury to her mouth," Cole said in October 2011. But, she noted, "In a case such as this, the cooperation of the victim is essential."
Henderson said this time, he was taking a stand against a juvenile court system that isn't working.
"The bottom line is I was just so tired of the system that has a glitch in it. They lock up our children instead of providing services they really need for them to do better, to be more successful in life, and I just decided to take a stand," he said. "I said I'd rather go to jail and sit in jail in order to bring attention to a very serious problem we have concerning our kids. I said, 'I'll go to jail and whatever they want to say about me, it's fine.'"