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Thursday, July 10, 2008

[WA] Despite warnings Chief Henderson harassing his ex

...The woman told police that Henderson had been harassing her since she ended their two-year relationship about a year ago. Henderson would repeatedly call her, drive by and park in front of her house and even once broke into her house and called the woman from her home phone... The woman said she had not involved the police earlier because she did not want Henderson, who is on probation for earlier legal problems, to get in trouble...

FIRE CHIEF CHARGED WITH HARASSMENT
HENDERSON ALLEGEDLY CALLED EX-GIRLFRIEND REPEATEDLY AT NIGHT

The Bellingham Herald
Caleb Heeringa
Jul, 8, 2008
comments (152)

The chief of Whatcom County Fire District 18 has been charged with telephone harassment for allegedly making repeated late night calls to an ex-girlfriend, despite prior warnings from police. George Henderson has a court date scheduled for Friday in the case, which stems from as many as 14 calls Henderson allegedly made to an ex-girlfriend between 1 and 2:30 a.m. May 31.

The woman, who lives in the Sedro-Woolley area, contacted police after being woken up by the calls. The woman told a Whatcom County sheriff’s deputy Henderson had made repeated calls to both her cell phone and land phone, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office case file. The Bellingham Herald is not publishing the woman’s name because she is a victim of a domestic violence-related crime.

Though the woman’s land-line phone did not have caller ID, her cell phone recorded five calls and one voice-mail message from Henderson’s phone number. In the message, Henderson begged the woman to take him back and criticized her for seeking a no-contact order against him through the court system, according to the deputy’s report.

That no-contact order was entered into Whatcom County District Court on June 3, four days after the alleged harassment incident.

The woman had contacted police about Henderson’s refusal to leave her alone three weeks earlier. On May 8, the woman text messaged Henderson something similar to “warning stop for the last time.” Henderson responded with several additional text messages, according to the case report. Henderson agreed to stop contacting the woman after a deputy called him about it.

The woman told police that Henderson had been harassing her since she ended their two-year relationship about a year ago. Henderson would repeatedly call her, drive by and park in front of her house and even once broke into her house and called the woman from her home phone, according to the woman’s statement to police.

The victim told police she had changed her phone number and even considered selling her house to avoid Henderson. The woman said she has a tape of 29 calls from Henderson and keeps her answering machine full to prevent him from leaving messages.

The woman said she had not involved the police earlier because she did not want Henderson, who is on probation for earlier legal problems, to get in trouble.

Henderson was put on probation for a year in December after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge for unpermitted landscaping work behind the district’s South Bay Drive station last summer. The state Department of Ecology fined the district $11,000 for the work, which eroded the shoreline and created a plume of dirt in the south end of the lake — the source of drinking water for the city of Bellingham — for days afterward.

A guilty conviction on the harassment charge, a gross misdemeanor, could mean that Henderson would have to face fines and jail time that were suspended as part of the December plea deal. Henderson is also required to undergo an alcohol evaluation following a driving under the influence charge that was reduced to disorderly conduct. That charge stemmed from Henderson having a 0.07 blood alcohol level after an October 2007 motorcycle wreck.

Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich was unavailable to comment on whether a conviction on this charge would affect the outcome of the disorderly conduct case.

The woman told police that she had tried to be friends with Henderson following the motorcycle wreck, which left him with significant injuries. She later stopped talking to Henderson when she realized he was trying to start a relationship again.

The deputy handling the May 31 incident contacted Henderson the morning after the phone calls. Henderson told the deputy he had been in the Chelan area and admitted to calling her and leaving messages after drinking at a party. But Henderson denied calling 14 times and said that others at the party may have called from his phone, according to the case report.

The woman told police Henderson has never threatened her with violence, but she was concerned that his obsessive behavior would continue following the May 31 incident. The deputy notes in the case report that the past incidents the woman describes would be enough to warrant an arrest for stalking and harassment.

Henderson declined to comment on the case. Fire district commissioner Socorro Ruiz did not return calls for comment. The woman could not be reached for comment because her phone number is unlisted.

Reach Caleb Heeringa at 715-2264 or caleb.heeringa@bellinghamherald.com.

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/102/story/461532.html

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