Lehigh Valley

'He haunts her dreams;' 71-year-old gets up to 20 years for child sex assault

He asked the victim not to tell anyone

EASTON, Pa. - A Northampton County judge on Friday sentenced a Bethlehem man to what could be a life sentence for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and asking her to keep his secret.

Northampton County Judge Jennifer Sletvold sentenced 71-year-old Henry W. Hunsinger to up to 20 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty in February to a single count of aggravated indecent assault of a child. He’ll serve a minimum of 5 1/2 years and faces a lifetime registration as a sex offender should he be released.

A detective with the Bethlehem Police Department responded to a Bethlehem Area School District elementary school in May 2018 to investigate a child reporting alleged sexual abuse. The girl reported that Hunsinger told her to keep the assaults a secret and not tell anyone. The victim was known to Hunsinger.

After interviewing the victim, the detective and a county children and youth investigator interviewed Hunsinger at his Bethlehem home. He allegedly admitted to performing sex acts on the girl and having the child perform sex acts on him over a roughly one-week period, according to records.

On Friday, defense attorney Ed Andres said Hunsinger disagreed with a pre-sentencing investigation that accused him of not expressing any empathy for the victim. Hunsinger recognized the impact it would have on the victim if she was called to testify, so he agreed to plead guilty, Andres told the judge.

The defense asked the judge to consider a 48- to 66-month prison sentence. But Assistant District Attorney Tatum Wilson asked Sletvold to sentence Hunsinger at the high-end of the range, considering his predatory behavior and the fact he took advantage of a young victim with an intellectual disability.
Hunsinger continues to haunt the girl’s dreams, and he’s never offered any kind of explanation for his actions, Wilson said.

“The only explanation the defendant could give was, ‘I was dumb,’” she said.

In briefly addressing the court, Hunsinger said he didn’t agree with the assessment of the victim’s delayed intellectual development, noting she made the honor roll this school year.

He then quietly conferred with his attorney before telling the judge that he had "a lot of sorrow" for what he did to the victim.

The judge said the girl submitted a victim impact statement that she did not want read aloud in the courtroom. But Sletvold said the victim did tell her something that she could share publicly.

“She asked me to protect her from you and I will do that,” Sletvold told Hunsinger.

Hunsinger worked for the division of children and youth in Tioga County in the 1970s, prompting the judge to question whether he assaulted any other children. His pre-sentencing investigation indicated that Hunsinger does not have a criminal record.

Before imposing her sentence, the judge called Hunsinger’s crimes “repulsive and egregious.” No prison term will ever be longer that the affects his actions have had on her, Sletvold said.

Her trust in adults will likely forever be affected, the judge said.

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