Editor’s Note: This article contains graphic material that may be offensive to some readers.
BRANTFORD- Found guilty in May of six sexual offences against two women, 55-year-old Roland Dennis Henry has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison by Justice Anthony Skarica.
Justice Skarica did grant Henry six months for time served. Henry described himself as a traditional healer. He had been living on the Six Nations. Henry had plead not guilty to all charges but was found guilty by a jury of nine women and three men in May.
Following the court’s ruling on Thursday, August 15 2019 Henry apologized to his female victims. The women were not at the sentencing or trial. He told the court he would not return to his traditional healing practice and was not appealing the verdict.
Henry had been found guilty in May of two counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference and two counts of invitation to sexual touching.
The court heard that both claimants said that the assaults occurred in a shack on his property where he practiced his medicine. It was also heard that Mr. Henry knew the minor since she was eight-year-old. While he had been having sessions with her to help clear the ‘negative energy’ that surrounded her since 2011, she claimed that in September 2015 things changed.
While the victim could not put a specific date of when it happened, she claimed that in either September or October he began abusing her. First she was told that to clear the negative energy she would have to strip naked and spread protective medicine on every part of her body. Then she was told she had to place it inside her body but after she placed it inside her vagina a few times Mr. Henry said the ‘spirits’ informed him that she wasn’t doing properly. He then digitally penetrated her to ‘ensure the medicine was applied properly’.
She said that Mr. Henry claimed that the negative energy was too deep inside of her and would lead to her getting cancer unless she got his ‘light’ inside of her to cleanse the negative energy. She said that Mr. Henry placed the medicine on his penis and inserted it into her mouth before ejaculating on the floor in front of her and rubbing his penis against the outside of her vagina.
She claimed that Henry told her that if she told anyone bad things would happen to her and her family but she told her dad in March 2016 so that she wouldn’t have to go back to see Mr. Henry. Although her dad wanted to kill him, she convinced him not to go confront Mr. Henry or call the police because she didn’t want to make things bigger than they already were.
While her father testified that he had paid Mr. Henry over $100,000, Mr. Henry testified that he only received $9,000 and was still owed $21,000. Mr. Henry alleges that the girl made up the claims due to the money owed and the financial troubles the family was in.
Meanwhile the girl alleged that the assaults had caused her to have nightmares so vivid that she couldn’t tell what was real and what was a dream. Her behaviour changed and her school work was affected which one of her teachers noticed. Finally in she broke down and spoke of what had been happening to her at which point the police were contacted.
While investigated the accusations, the Six Nations Police discovered a book written by another woman that contained similarities to the case, although it contained no mention of any sexual elements. They contacted the woman who was at first hesitant to talk to them but later called them back and gave a telephone statement that she too was sexually assaulted by Ronald Henry. She said that before they contacted her, she had seen a media release on Facebook about Mr. Henry’s arrest.
She claimed the abuse started after she agreed to undertake a ‘spiritual healing journey’ in 2010 after Mr. Henry told her that the spirits were against her. She was told to empty all the alcohol from her house and do cleansing sessions which involved collecting and drinking red willow tea until she vomited. Mr. Henry told her that her twin boys would be kidnapped if she didn’t move to the Six Nations in December 2010 so she sold her house and her family moved in January 2011. He later told her that her husband would die a slow agonizing death from a car crash unless he also began a healing journey which she convinced her husband to do.
Sometime between September 2010 and August 2011, Mr. Henry allegedly told her she needed medicine to prevent getting cancer. He had her strip naked and apply medicine to her entire body as he watched. He would then use a face cloth to apply the medicine to her lower back, top of her bum and other places she couldn’t reach. She was told the medicine had to be inserted inside her so she digitally inserted the medicine herself.
Mr. Henry allegedly told her the spirits advised him she wasn’t doing it properly so he would have to do it. He digitally penetrated her during five sessions before advising her that she needed his ‘light’ inside her to eliminate cancer.
Speaking for the spirits, Mr. Henry told her she would have to pay and that she would have to ‘suck a lot and she would have to f#$% a lot’. He allegedly told her she needed to suck the medicine off his penis and that he would need to have sex with him.
She alleges that she ended the sessions because he continued to pressure her into having sex with him. She later wrote a book about her healing journey but said she was not ready to disclose details of assaults or Mr. Henry’s name as she was afraid of a defamation lawsuit.
While in her original statement, she spoke of talking with people who were dead she later gave a second statement to clarify that she only believed this at the time. She said she now believes that the voices she heard were from her higher self and she felt she needed to give a second statement to ensure her account was accurate.
Ronald Henry admitted to treating both women along with hundreds of others over the past decade. He said that the only protective medicine he prescribed was to be applied in the bath tub. He said that he never had them wash themselves in his shack and that he never touched either woman sexually, he never inserted his fingers into the claimants vagina’s, he never had them engage in oral sex with them and he never insisted that either of them have sex with. He said that the younger claimant stopped seeing him because her father owed him $21,000 and that they had financial issues. While he said the older claimant confided all over her dark secrets to him and told him she had unprotected sex with a lot of men. Mr. Henry said that her husband wanted to talk to him and he advised her that if asked about her past he would not lie. Mr. Henry said that was why she stopped seeing him for healing.
During his closing arguments, Mr. Henry’s lawyer Tyler Smith Mr. Smith said there is no precise definition of reasonable doubt and that the case comes down to credibility.
“There is no direct evidence to support the allegations…There was no confession, no independent or objective witness to the crime, no DNA, fingerprints or medical evidence. The detective investigating the crimes didn’t testify, there were no text messages and no evidence of a shack at all. There is a complete absence of any evidence that would service to corroborate the complainants.”
Mr. Smith said the older claimants testimony was fraught with inconsistencies and tainted. While the younger claimant had financial motive to lie because of the financial difficulties her family was facing. He added that during her testimony she admitted to exaggerating. He added that the similarities of the testimonies given by the two claimants is suspect. While the Prosecutor Ed Slater said that it’s because the two accounts are so similar that they should be believed.
“These are two women who were different ages and came from two different backgrounds. They both said they went to Mr. Henry to receive traditional healing services. They both said that he told them the medicine had to be applied sexually. He implied to both of them that they must follow his directions or risk getting cancer..The importance is the similarity of the evidence.”
He asked what the chances were that two women who never had any contact could speak of the exact same encounters or been so profoundly mistaken about what really happened.
“The nature of the evidence makes their evidence more potent. He (Ronald Henry) was insistent that there were no wash, application of medicine or sexual touching. So how could two women both concoct the exact same details?”