After Walla Walla rape conviction, more potential victims are en - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

After Walla Walla rape conviction, more potential victims are encouraged to speak up

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WALLA WALLA, WA - A case involving a well-known young man convicted by a jury of rape has the small town of Walla Walla a bit shaken up.

22-year-old Cougar Ray Henderson still has two more sexual assault cases against him. Once described as popular, charismatic and handsome, Henderson was found guilty of second degree rape late last month for an assault that happened in September of 2013. A well-liked and active member of the church and theater communities, Henderson has been involved in a trial that has greatly upset the community in which he was once a very active member.

After rumors began to spread about Henderson's behavior, a social media post sparked a maelstrom of responses, which lead to what Investigator Detective Marcus Goodwater says is key in getting more victims to come forward.

"This is the first time I've had one that went so viral, at least in our small community," Det. Goodwater said. "It started on Facebook; I think that's how it got originally reported and that's how I first originally heard about it."

In court documents, Jane Doe 1 was 16 years old when she was raped by Henderson back in September of 2013. While in his car, the then-18-year-old Henderson forced himself onto the victim after repeatedly being told to stop.

A second victim, Jane Doe 2, was 20 when, after a night of drinking, Henderson assaulted her as well. Both Jane Does explicitly told Henderson that they did not want to have sex prior to their assaults.

With the community's emotional response to the trial, Deputy Prosecutor Nicholas Holce says this case underlines how important reporting and trying these types of crimes is - regardless of who the perpetrator is.

"In one respect, this case is identical to any sex offense that we want, our office wants to pursue it if there's a basis for it," Holce explained. "If we find that there is probable cause, we are going to zealously pursue that to whatever end we can. So, if someone commits a crime, we want to be able to hold that person accountable."

During our investigation, the third victim, John Doe came forward to tell us his story. After knowing Henderson through theater, he says one night of casually hanging out turned into a nightmare. 

While using the restroom, John Doe says Henderson came inside, pushed him against the wall, pulled down his pants and grabbed him.

After pushing him away and running home, John Doe remembers how overwhelmed he felt.

"I felt really violated and like, scared and upset," John Doe said. "I kept playing it back in my head, trying to decide if I did anything that could have come off as wanting that sort of thing to happen and I never did."

Coming forward, both Det. Goodwater and John Doe say that if there's one thing that this trial can do is give people to strength to speak up and be an advocate for themselves.

"I'm told that there's still more victims out there, both male and female, and I want them to come forward and I would like to listen to them," Det. Goodwater said. "Even if it's beyond the statute of limitations. I'm here to listen; there's always somebody here."

"There is support out there and there is love, and we have to show that we're strong and we're visible and that we're not hiding anymore," John Doe said.

Henderson is also charged with two separate crimes; one being indecent liberties with forcible compulsion involving an assault in 2015 and one being indecent liberties without forcible compulsion in 2014. Due to a change of plea following his guilty verdict, trials for the other two charges were struck, and following a pre-sentencing investigation scheduled for later this month, Henderson is expected to be sentenced in late July, early August.

When reached for comment, Henderson's attorney Michael De Grasse said: "My client is continuing to defend himself, and beyond that, I have nothing else to say about that."

A recent photograph involving members of the LIFE Church in Walla Walla in support of Henderson led the church to make this statement: "This statement is in response to any online confusion that may have recently arisen. LIFE Church exists so that people far from God will find life in Jesus Christ. In regards to the recent conviction of Cougar Henderson, who attended our church, the offense happened prior to him attending. A family member of Cougar Henderson gathered people to take a picture outside of the jail to send a birthday hello. This was not a LIFE Church post.

We simply stand for healing and restoration in the lives of all people and are praying for the lives of the people who have been affected. We exist to bring hope, healing, and love to all."

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