Dark Obsession: Or How Life Keeps Tearing Down The Beliefs Of My Youth

In 1969, a twenty-eight year old Bobby Sessions met a young woman named Linda Brotherton. They had both just come out of rocky marriages, and Linda quickly fell in love with Bobby, who was flirtatious and brass–everything that her former husband hadn’t been. Linda’s previous marriage had been violent, and she was happy to be around Bobby, who apparently doted on her and her three year old daughter, Shelley.

Linda and Bobby married in Houston, Texas, and Bobby began working in the oil industry. He was ambitious and motivated, and within several years Bobby found himself in Manhattan working as the vice president of Amerada Hess. The Sessions family lived in New Jersey and Bobby commuted into Manhattan every day. After several years he took a job in Houston as an oil-trader, a job that would earn Bobby Sessions millions of dollars. At thirty-eight Bobby Sessions had made enough money to move back to his hometown of Corsicana, Texas and retire.

Unbeknownst to Linda, Bobby began molesting his thirteen year old step-daughter when they were still living in Houston. At first Bobby claimed to Shelley that it was a way for them to become closer, and because Shelley was physically afraid of her step-father, she didn’t tell anyone. The attacks from her step-father only increased after the family moved to Corsicana, and Bobby became more and more possessive of his step-daughter. As Bobby became more overtly manipulative of Shelley, Linda withdrew from the family totally, presumably as a way to hide herself from Bobby’s disgustingly brazen behavior.

I won’t summarize the whole book, but the life of Shelley Sessions is disturbing and disgusting. As Shelley gets older and begins to realize the hellishness of her life, she attempts to get help, but Bobby’s position in the rural community made it difficult for her to find someone willing to take on the local millionaire. Thankfully, there was one exception. The pastor of a local church, Henry Edgington, risked his life to help the young Shelley Sessions. Edgington was the first person Shelley told about her father, the pederast. In the book Dark Obsession, Shelley reminisces about Edgington, “Everybody loved Henry. He was, like, best friend to everybody. And, you know, he was always there. We all used to hang out with him. So he seemed like the person to tell.”

The excerpt that follows occurs immediately after Shelley finally opens up to Henry Edgington about the tragedy that was her life:

“Don’t worry Shelley,” [Edgington] said. “Nobody’s going to touch you again.”

Henry ushered Shelley and Jackie into his living room. Shelley felt safe, if not completely comfortable. Part of her was even wondering why she hadn’t done this sooner.

Edgington didn’t condemn her or call her a slut. Though she trusted him, Shelley fully expected a man of the cloth to be disgusted by her “confession.” When he wasn’t, she felt washed by a soothing wave.

“All of a sudden I could see all this relief on her,” recalled Edgington. “It was finally out in the open and she knew something was going to be done about it and she was going to get out of this stupid mess…Now that he knew the truth, Edgington wasn’t going to take any chances in getting Shelley to Corsicana. It was a straight ten-mile drive, and it went by [Bobby Sessions’] ranch. And he was worried that Bobby might now be desperate enough to do something rash.

He called his friends on the Kerens and Powell police departments and told them not to worry if they saw him speeding by–he was taking Shelley Sessions to Corsicana [to the police dept.].

Edgington now motored a little four-wheel gem out of his garage: a 1923 T-Bucket Roadster with an incongruous throaty idle that seemed to rattle the entire machine, and as Edgington described it, “this big beautiful chrome Chevrolet engine, the best thing that could have happened to a Ford.” The pastor was a car buff–especially hot rods. “We were afraid that Bob was going to be waiting for us,” he recalled, “so I wanted to use the Roadster. It had a 327 built-up engine with almost 400 horse-power, and I could blow anything off the road. These Roadsters will do 160.”

Edgington ended up getting Shelley to Corsicana safely, and he eventually helped her extricate herself from the claws of Bobby Sessions.

The first time I heard about this story wasn’t in a bookstore or via a book review. No, the first time I heard this story was from Henry’s own mouth. He had been the pastor of the Church of Christ in West, Texas, for several years, and I was good friend with his oldest son, Chris. I was spending the night with Chris one weekend, and while we where playing the Nintendo in his room he began to tell me this tale. We were in eighth grade, and I thought he was having me on. Since I kept telling him he was full of shit, Chris finally called his dad into the room and asked him to tell me the story of Shelley Sessions. Henry really didn’t want to, but he reluctantly told me an abbreviated version of the story.

After I got home that weekend I immediately called Waldenbooks and ordered the book. After I read it I couldn’t believe that the same guy I saw at least twice a week was an honest-to-goodness hero. I already thought the world of Henry, but after I read the book I was totally amazed by the guy.

I went through some pretty tough times after high school, and on several occasions I sought out Henry to help get me through those times. He was always there for me when I needed him, despite going through some rough patches with his own family.

So it pained me more than I can possibly explain when I found out that on September 8th, Waco police arrested Henry Edgington for possession of child pornography. Henry was an assistant pastor at the Elm Mott Church of Christ, a position which he resigned from immediately before his arrest. Henry told the police that he was researching pornographic sites in an attempt to shut them down.

The parishioners at the Elm Mott Church of Christ are standing behind Henry. They claim he told them of his investigation and they supported him in it.

I hope with all my heart Henry actually thought he was doing a good thing. A little part of me will simply shrivel up and die if Henry isn’t as heroic as I’ve always thought him to be.

Categories: Blogging, Texaspecific | Comments

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Comments

  1. David says:

    I knew Henry in the time frame after this..he left the Corsicana area church to pastor a church near Lufkin….Everyone loved him and his family….He always told us he “had a past”…we knew he used to be in a rock band and”lived the life” but had quit and gone back to his roots…Thats been 30 years ago so I know nothing that has transpired since then but I hope he finds peace

  2. Ryan Roberts says:

    He is as “heroic” as you thought him to be… probably much, much more! I’ve known Henry for 18-19 years now, and he is what he is. A faithfull man of God, always seeking the better for everything! and everyone! I’m a 29 year old married man with a 9 year old daughter. I pray that I am at least half the man to my daughter that he is to everyone he meets.

  3. Not dead wife says:

    This “honest” man said his wife had died when he lived in Corpus Christi and she is alive and well in Austin. This is the second wife he said had died. He has been married three times and divorced three times. Wonder if his church knows this about this “honest” man who was “helping” children. What else about him do they NOT know. The heart is reflected by the actions. If someone would lie about his wives being dead….what else would he lie about? How well do these people who support him REALLY know him? Check it out and see.

  4. Hypermark says:

    @not dead

    The point in posting that wasn’t an attempt to exonerate Henry. I thought I stated pretty plainly in the post that I have no knowledge of the case, other than circumstantial.

    Also, claiming an ex wife is dead is indeed dishonest and deplorable, but it in no way is an indication of pedophilia. To insinuate that one is related to another is logically unsound.

    I’d also very much appreciate it if you emailed me privately. Use the contact tab at the top of the page. I’ll respect your privacy if you don’t wish to do so, but I’d very much like to talk to you personally.

  5. I was wife #1 and I’m not dead either

  6. Hypermark says:

    @not dead either

    So am I to assume you’re the wife that is mentioned wife in “Dark Obsessions”? And therefore the wife that I knew personally?

  7. AMAZED says:

    😯
    I am truly shocked at this. I read that book front to back when the Sessions moved in across the street from me. I heard the stories but also knew Shelley. Perhaps someone should question what was really going on with her. She was no angel you know.

  8. daughter in law says:

    Being the one that found said pictures.. I would like to add that wife number 3 was such an embarrasment to such a highly respected man to be married to a prescription drug abuser whom had psychotic episodes so frequently that he had to remove himself for his own well being as well as his children. This coming from a woman whose kids could not get further away? lol. Stealing from an employer that trusted you …lets call him dr mel makes you the one that should be under scrutiny don’t you think? Skeletons don’t stay in the closet long Gail Wilhoit!!!

  9. oldest son says:

    I am amazed by the whole situation as a whole and on a more personal note the lengths individuals will go to trying to create a false image of someone due to pure hurt driven feelings. To those of you who truly know my father like myself, I thank you for believing in him like I do and not passing judgement based on non proven charges and statements. I knew for at least six months that he was taking on a cause too great for himself before everything happened. The breakdown of communication between my wife and father ultimately led to his arrest. You have to imagine a mother of three beautiful children stumbling upon these pictures,which were by the way prints from websites targeted to be shut down not actual photos of children! There is a right way and wrong way to do things,this quite possibly was not the way to get this done.However, it doesnt change the fact that there are people out there that will complain and talk about how bad sites like this are and never lift a finger to do anything about it! I commend my father for not being one of those people who cared enough to do something. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” keep this in mind while you share your hate.Thank you Mark for letting the world know the truth about my father youre a dear friend!

  10. Gail Wilhoit says:

    To Daughter in law—-God will judge you so my comments do not have to. Your heart shows up with these comments. I am saddened by them and you know what is true and what is not. So does Henry and so does God. Why you thought you needed to bring me into this is beyond my understanding.
    Skeletons in the closet are things better left in the closet, daughter in law….as yours are trying to be….and should be. I have no skeletons to be in or out of the closet. Your facts might need to be revisited.
    Your hurtful remarks only hurt you and as for the Rx drug abuser, the one who cries wolfe….you know the rest….I am disapponted by this whole thing and you can answer to your own conscience and the Creator who knows your heart, your actions and your motives as I do not.
    Sincerely,
    Gail Wilhoit

    I am not ashamed of who I am or anything I have ever done…I pray for the same for all of you.

  11. Gail Wilhoit says:

    Mark,

    I need for you to email me on this “daughter in law” comment as the remarks are all liable as none of them are true. In order to save Henry from any more pain, I respectfully request you remove this remark made by her with my name as it is disparaging to my reputation and I don’t want to hire an attorney to make her state these are lies. I tried to reach you via your contact and be private about this, but found no way. You may remove my comments to her and this one as well and you will save Henry, Chris and Crystal some very nasty legal battles. They know I fought for Henry’s reputation when the incident happened in West, Texas and a newspaper article backs what I say. It would be easy to bring suit as my reputation is important to me and she overstepped the lines when she printed my name. This was not only uncalled for, it is untrue….ALL of it and it is easy to prove. Please save them the heartache of having to deal with one more thing and remove these remarks. It would be best for all involved.
    Thank you,
    Gail Wilhoit

  12. Hypermark says:

    First, let me clearly state that I will not, and will never, delete or close a comment posting on this blog simply because a reader becomes upset. Your decision to come to this blog is entirely voluntary, and as such, the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution clearly apply.

    Concurrently, section 230 of the Communications Act of 1996, also known as Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, provides myself, and the host of this blog, Dreamhost, protection against frivolous lawsuits regarding instances of libel. This means that I am in no way legally responsible for any nonsense that gets posted in the comments section of this blog.

    Also, this is just an aside, but “liable” means legally responsible, or likely to occur. If you’re writing about defamation of character, the correct term is “libel.”

    Further, the United States Courts favors the defendant in cases of defamation, whether those cases are instances of libel or slander. Obviously, you are free to pursue whatever legal action you see fit, but the courts usually frown upon frivolous cases of defamation and treat the plaintiff quite critically. Please educate yourself on what legally constitutes defamation, and I think you’ll see that it’s a very, very difficult thing to prove in any court of law.

    Finally, in the post that spurred all of this, I never claimed to have any kind of knowledge about Henry’s guilt in this case. I only stated that I hoped it wasn’t true, and since I have no inside information, that’s how I remain. I have left this comments section open and unmediated because I found the comments fascinating; however, I do not take proclamations of lawsuits kindly. Stay and say what you want. Get mad and leave if you please, but DO NOT come on my blog and tell me to take things down based on a completely ignorant understanding of United States law. While my freedom of speech may be guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, here, on this blog, I am a tyrant.

    If you don’t like that then click the little “back” button on your browser twice, clear your history and cache, and forget this URL.

  13. Gail Wilhoit says:

    Mark,

    This was not against you at all. I know the legal aspects of defamation of character. As to date, this has not hurt my potential income, but if it does, I would not bring you into it at all. My comments regarding libel have nothing to do with you as the host. If you will read my comments, they related to the daughter in law who found the pictures. I know who she is as I was informed of this whole thing when Henry was going through. The only reason I even found this was because we all googled our names at work. When I saw the “skeletons” I wondered what it was talking about, so I looked at your link.

    I know Henry was not guilty of anything except trying to stop some horrendous people from publishing porn on the website. He is a caring and loving person and I find it totally beyond my belief system to think he even knows she said these things about me. He has always shown me great respect and consideration of my feelings. I supported him to the end on this thing and whether or not you believe it or if the world believes it or not makes no difference. He did nothing wrong to hurt anyone. I was aware from the get go he was doing this and was shocked Krystal did not. Many people knew he was trying to do something good. Your thoughts of him as a child and as a hero were correct. He has given himself to many people and thinks of himself last in any situation.

    I could print a lot of things that would not look good on paper about several people who have posted on this site understanding the first amendment, but choose to rise above that sort of smut. No one would benefit from me saying any of those things.

    I can tell you with all assurance that Henry is not a child molester or child “viewer” as some have accused him of. Henry, in all of his goodness was trying to do something good and made some uninformed choices. He told me all about it when he was doing it and I was too ignorant to warn him it might come back to hurt him. I am very sorry I was unaware or I would have tried to save him this humiliation and hurt.

    I spent many days in the daughter in law’s house and she knows no one left me to protect anyone from anything. This hurt me and the first amendment had nothing to do with it.

    Now that I have gotten over the initial shock of such things being printed that are totally untrue, even though it hurt my son as well, I leave it in the hands of God, who gives to all what their just rewards are. Her words hurt many innocent people and for this, I am sad. Her fate is in the hands of one much greater than I.

    I ask no one for forgiveness for anything I have done or said and if you feel the need to be protective of yourself and quote the law, then I hope it brings you some comfort.

    The most important aspect of this whole mess is I can say with no reservations that Henry is innocent if there is any doubt in your mind.

    I will probably never come back to your site because this trauma Henry has had to suffer has gone on longer than I wanted it to. He is a fine and loving man who only gives of himself freely for the good of all. If there is any question in your mind about his status in this thing, know this…I have known Henry since I was 14 years old and will believe to my death that he is nothing but good.

    We have all made mistakes in our lives and some he made unknowingly, but he did not do this to hurt anyone, but to help. My heart is full of sorrow for the suffering this innocent man has had to suffer. If I could take it away, I would. Henry asked me to testify for him if it came to it as he knows I believe in him and his goodness. Henry and I remain friends and he knows I will be there for him on all levels if he ever needs me. I believe the same holds true about him for me. Nothing anyone can say will change that. His heart speaks through his actions and what he did for Shelly was beyond the call of duty or responsibility. He put his own life at risk and never gave it a second thought. He has always been proud of what he did for her, as he should be.

    Thank you for letting me voice myself on your site.

    Gail

  14. Did Shelly go to Kerens school?

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