A Buellton man accused of snatching a toddler from a shopping cart at a grocery store last month pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Santa Maria Superior Court to criminal charges stemming from the incident.
William “Bill” Henderson, 56, has been charged with a felony count of false imprisonment by force or violence and misdemeanor willful cruelty to a child.
On Aug. 7, Henderson allegedly removed a 2-year-old boy from a shopping cart at the Albertsons supermarket on Highway 246 in Buellton, and started walking toward the exit, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
The child’s parent stopped the man who released the toddler before leaving the store. Both parent and child were distraught, according to sheriff’s deputies.
Henderson, who owns a local transportation company, was arrested days after the incident
He initially was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of felony kidnapping and misdemeanor child endangerment, with bail set at $100,000.
The criminal complaint was filed Tuesday, and Henderson appeared in court Wednesday for his arraignment hearing.
Henderson, who remains out of custody on bail, was ordered to return to court Oct. 24 before Judge John McGregor.
Deputy District Attorney Austin Ingalls is leading the prosecution team, while Jesse Ruiz represented the defendant.
Earlier this year, Henderson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct involving solicitation of a lewd act, which reportedly occurred on Dec. 24. The criminal complaint was filed in January.
He was still on probation at the time of latest allegation.