Law­maker faces calls to re­sign after do­mes­tic vi­o­lence rul­ing

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Local - BY PAUL A. SPECHT as­[email protected]­sob­ Paul A. Specht: 919- 829- 4870, @AndySpecht

A North Carolina leg­is­la­tor is fac­ing calls to re­sign fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that he ha­rassed his wife.

A judge last month placed a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence pro­tec­tion or­der against NC Rep. Cody Hen­son of Tran­syl­va­nia County after his wife tes­ti­fied that she feared for her life, ac­cord­ing to re­ports from WLOS and Carolina Pub­lic Press. The county sher­iff is­sued a crim­i­nal sum­mons against Hen­son on March 6, Carolina Pub­lic Press re­ported. On Thurs­day, the North Carolina Demo­cratic Party called on Hen­son to re­sign. A party news­let­ter emailed Thurs­day morn­ing in­cluded con­dem­na­tions from party of­fi­cials and NC Rep. Deb But­ler of Wilm­ing­ton.

“I have re­mained silent on this is­sue un­til this time be­cause in the United States peo­ple are pre­sumed in­no­cent un­til proven guilty in a court of law,” But­ler said. “Now that a judge has seen fit, after a hear­ing on the mer­its, to grant a per­ma­nent re­strain­ing or­der against Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Hen­son, there has been a find­ing of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence on his part. There is no place for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in our so­ci­ety, par­tic­u­larly on the part of an elected of­fi­cial who pur­ports to be a role model for our youth.”

The news­let­ter pro­vided a link to a copy of the pro­tec­tion or­der, which or­ders Hen­son to leave his wife alone un­til Jan. 26, 2020. Hen­son, a Repub­li­can, served in the Marine Corps re­serve be­tween 2011 and 2017.

Hen­son’s wife Kelsey pre­sented copies of text mes­sages and records of phone calls while tes­ti­fy­ing that Hen­son con­tin­u­ally ha­rassed her, Carolina Pub­lic Press re­ported. “The De­fend­ent will not quit ‘tex­ting’ the Plain­tiff at all hours of the Day,” the pro­tec­tor or­der says.

Carolina Pub­lic Press re­ported this quote from Hen­son’s wife: “Some peo­ple don’t think that’s abuse, or that it’s domes- tic vi­o­lence,” Kelsey Hen­son said of re­peated texts and phone calls. “But it is men­tal abuse, and that’s what the judge stated.”

Hen­son’s po­si­tion in state gov­ern­ment may have pre­vented his wife from get­ting help soon. Kelsey Hen­son told Carolina Pub­lic Press that she strug­gled to get law en­force­ment of­fi­cers to in­ter­vene on her be­half.

“Ev­ery time I tried to re­port it and called 911 or went to a mag­is­trate to try to get help, I was de­nied,” Kelsey Hen­son told CPP. “I truly feel that was be­cause of his po­si­tion.”

Hen­son de­clined to com­ment and re­ferred the N&O to his at­tor­ney, Michael Ed­ney of Hen­der­son­ville. Hen­son is due to ap­pear in court on March 28 for the crim­i­nal sum­mons, Ed­ney said in a state­ment.

“Rep. Hen­son looks for­ward to ad­dress­ing this al­le­ga­tion in due course through our ju­di­cial sys­tem, and will not at­tempt to lit­i­gate the mat­ter through the me­dia,” Ed­ney said. “Cody will con­tinue to fo­cus his love and en­ergy on his two beau­ti­ful chil­dren and will con­tinue to rep­re­sent the peo­ple of Dis­trict 113.”

House Speaker Tim Moore didn’t re­spond to an email seek­ing com­ment.

Cody Hen­son

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