An Endeavor man reached a deal with prosecutors Tuesday in which he will spend the next two years on probation for having inappropriate conversations with an underage girl on Facebook.
John E. Henning, 43, also must submit a DNA sample, register as a sex offender and undergo any counseling recommended by his probation agent.
The criminal complaint against Henning details eight separate instances between June and October 2014 in which he sent inappropriate messages to a 15-year-old girl through the social networking site.
The girl’s mother discovered the Facebook chats on her home computer in Sauk City, and provided copies to law enforcement. Henning made sexual advances, and requested explicit photos of the girl, even after she told him she was 15.
When interviewed by authorities, Henning admitted to knowing that she was not of age. He was charged with possessing child pornography and child enticement in Marquette County involving the same incident. The child pornography charge has been dismissed, but the other charge still is pending.
In Sauk County Circuit Court on Tuesday, Henning pleaded no contest to two of the eight felonies against him. Each was for exposing a child to harmful descriptions. The remaining six charges were dismissed.
When asked if he had anything to say about the case, Henning responded: “I guess just that I’m sorry. It should never have happened.”
Circuit Court Judge Guy Reynolds found him guilty of the two felonies, but withheld sentencing at the joint recommendation of Sauk County District Attorney Kevin Calkins and defense attorney Joseph Viney of Baraboo.
If Henning does not comply with terms of his probation, he could wind up back in court for sentencing on the two felonies, each which carries a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Calkins said community supervision was an appropriate resolution because Henning’s only criminal record is an arson conviction from 1995. He also said the victim in the Sauk County case wants the matter resolved without the anxiety of testifying, and is embarrassed for her part in the Facebook conversations.
Reynolds noted that Henning has complied with law enforcement and did not attempt to play games with investigators.
Viney said his client, a former firefighter in his hometown of Endeavor, is sorry for what he’s done.
“Mr. Henning understands what he did was wrong and as the adult should not have taken part in the texting and email type of communication with the victim in this instance,” Viney said.
This article was updated on May 20, 2016, to state that the child pornography charge against Henning in Marquette County has been dismissed.
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