41-year-old Lorna Allen, who called Willits her home for 15 years, has gone public with shocking allegations–accusing a police officer of sexual misconduct. Between 2015 and 2020, Derek Hendry, a former member of multiple Mendocino County law enforcement agencies, allegedly used physical violence, threats of incarceration, and his powers as a police officer to coerce her into multiple sexual encounters, including once in a police vehicle.
Allen is an admitted ex-addict with a criminal record. She knows that for many her past diminishes her credibility. For that reason, Allen and other women with similar backgrounds were Hendry’s preferred targets, she told us. Hendry knew accusations of misconduct made by addicts would fall on deaf ears.
“This man has ruined my life,” Allen said. For five years, Allen lived in a pervasive fear imagining Hendry could arrive in his patrol vehicle at any minute threatening violence or jail unless she performed oral sex or intercourse.
Derek Hendry served in the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office from approximately 2010-2018. Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall said Hendry “has not been an employee of the Sheriff’s Office for several years.” While Hendry was employed with MCSO, “I was not aware of any allegations of this nature.”
After he was terminated by MCSO, he worked up the ranks to lieutenant for the Willits Police Department. In April 2022, Hendry was fired by WPD for reasons unknown. By August, he was at the center of a criminal investigation.
Trent James, a former deputy with MCSO and officer with WPD, has used his YouTube channel “Confessions of an Ex-Cop” to address alleged corruption in those agencies. He has multiple videos focused on Hendry’s predatory behaviors. Allen saw one of those videos and reached out to James who persuaded her to report Hendry so he could be held accountable and maybe inspire others to come forward.
In August 2022, Allen brought forward her experiences to the Willits Police Department directly. She shared them with Sergeant Stephen Gray, an officer Allen said she admired and called a “good cop”.
In the same month Allen told her story to WPD, we received information that Willits Police Chief Lizarraga had requested the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to conduct the criminal investigation to avoid any conflict of interest issues. LCSO’s Major Crimes unit served a search warrant on Hendry’s Ukiah home on August 5, 2022.
Chief Lizarraga told us in a recent conversation that LCSO’s findings warranted being considered for criminal charges and then forwarded to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office where District Attorney David Eyster and his legal staff will determine whether formal charges will be filed against Hendry.
We reached out to the DA’s office for comment and have yet to hear back.
It remains unknown if the criminal investigation centers around Allen’s accusations or includes others. When Allen was being interviewed by LCSO, she told investigators of other women who had fallen victim to Hendry.
Allen is sober now and memories of Derek Hendry’s violence haunt her. She described suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and says she lives in a chronic state of fear. Since speaking openly about her experience to the media, she says she fears Hendry will find her and kill her.
When asked why she did not report his behavior at the time, Allen said Hendry had left her in a fog of fear. She was scared her mother living in Willits could be in danger, that she would end up in jail or hurt, and feared being ignored because of her addiction and lifestyle.
Allen’s admitted addiction and lifestyle at the time of Hendry’s abuses have made it difficult for her to map out a timeline and specific dates are estimates at best. Almost every single occurrence followed a predictable quid pro quo: Allen could avoid violence or jail if she gave into his sexual advances. In every encounter with Hendry, he would be in police uniform.
Allen remembered Hendry threatening to plant an ounce of heroin on her and book her on drug charges if she did not comply. She recalled engaging in sex acts in the back of Hendry’s patrol vehicle while he wore his uniform. Hendry would routinely tell Allen, “Bitch, you’re mine. You’re done when I say you’re done.”
Attempting to provide Hendry an opportunity to comment on the investigation and Allen’s accusations, we called a phone number associated with him. A woman answered. We asked to speak with Derek Hendry. She asked who was calling and after disclosing who we were and that we were seeking comment, the woman said, “No thank you” and quickly hung up.
Since Allen came forward with her experiences, she told us she receives threatening phone calls from anonymous phone numbers daily. She said an unknown caller recently told her, “Shut your mouth or we’ll shut it for you.” When she tried to call these numbers back, an automated voice told her it was a non-working number.
Allen is worried knowing the District Attorney is now weighing whether to prosecute Hendry. She joined protestors outside the Mendocino County Courthouse in the days before a “sweetheart” plea deal was handed down to Kevin Murray, a disgraced Ukiah Police Sergeant accused of sexual assault of multiple women. After Murray ended up with a year of probation, Allen says she is afraid Hendry will also get off easy.
Allen told us that going public with her experience was a way to show she was “no longer a victim. I am a survivor.” Her anxiety is a constant companion and she fears that her past will lead the world to perceive her accusations as fabrications. “Just because I did drugs and went to jail, doesn’t mean I’m a liar,” she said.
Allen received information yesterday afternoon that reminded her of why she needed to tell her story. Since NBC’s Bay Area affiliate broke her story, the station had received multiple calls from others victimized by Hendry. Hearing this news, Allen simply said, “That’s why it was important to tell my story.”
We must note that Derek Hendry has not been publicly charged or tried for the accusations levied by Allen. In accordance with the legal principle of the presumption of innocence, Hendry should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.