The Transylvania Times -

N.C. Rep. Cody Henson Pleads Guilty To Cyberstalking-Brevard NC

 

July 22, 2019



N.C. Rep. Cody Henson was placed on supervised probation for 18 months after pleading guilty in Transylvania Criminal District Court on Tuesday to one misdemeanor count of cyberstalking, involving his estranged wife, Kelsey.

Judge Robert Martelle said Henson is to report back to court on July 28, 2020, and if the conditions of supervised probation have been met, Henson will be switched to unsupervised probation as a part of the condition of the plea, which is "a plea of guilty pursuant to a deferred prosecution."

As a part of his supervised probation, Henson has to receive a mental health and substance abuse screening and follow up with any recommended treatment.

In addition, he has to take a domestic violence class at SAFE, Inc., the domestic abuse treatment center in Transylvania County.

Martelle ordered that he not have contact with Kelsey and he continued being prohibited from having firearms through the probation period.

As requested by Henson's attorney, Michael Edney, and granted by Martelle, Henson is allowed to travel out of the county because of his duties in the legislature.

Boz Zellinger, the special prosecutor for the N.C. Department of Justice, prosecuted the case after District Attorney Greg Newman recused himself because he supported Henson during his last election.

As previously reported, Kelsey filed on March 3 a complaint that stated Henson allegedly "annoyed and harassed (the) victim with multiple text messages" from January 2018 to February 2019.

Cyberstalking is defined in N.C. General Statute 1 14-196.3 as "electronic communication," which includes "any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature, transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, computer, electromagnetic, photo-electric or photo-optical system."

"It is unlawful for a person," according to the statute, "to electronically mail or electronically communicate to another repeatedly, whether or not conversation ensues, for the purpose of abusing, annoying, threatening, terrifying, harassing or embarrassing any person."

The statute goes on to state that any person who violates the "provisions of this section shall be guilty of a class two misdemeanor."

Zellinger said the couple met in high school and were married in 2014.

"In April of 2017, their relationship started to go south," Zellinger said in court Tuesday. "Kelsey didn't feel like she could go anywhere or do anything without being controlled. Initially, they broke up in April 2017, and they got back together in September of 2017. In November of 2017, Kelsey became pregnant with their second child (and) things eventually got worse. The defendant would say things to Kelsey about how powerful he was in the state legislature, and that she would never see her kids and that he had a dream team of lawyers. When they got back together, the defendant would drink heavily and sometimes Kelsey would sleep in her 3-year-old's room out of fear of him. Then, he would tell her that he's a trained killer and he could kill anyone in the room and then he would threaten to kill himself."

Zellinger said that in February of 2018 Henson was "drinking heavily and screaming at Kelsey" after he had returned from Raleigh. Zellinger said at one point he was "screaming" at her as she answered the phone.

"It was the defendant's mother who heard him screaming, and then his mother contacted him," Zellinger said. "This infuriated him, and he threw a full beer can at Kelsey, and this was in front of the 3-year-old son, and he started screaming, and at that time Kesley gave their son a second bath and locked herself in his room."

The next morning, Zellinger said, after Henson's father had arrived "to calm things down," Kelsey had left, and Zellinger said that Henson posted a picture on Facebook on Feb 11, 2018, of his three handguns with a sentence stating that he, Cody, had cleaned "part of his arsenal today," which Zellinger said "instilled in Kelsey a lot of fear."

"The charged behavior is from May 2018. This revolves around text messages between Kelsey and the defendant Cody Henson," Zellinger said. "At this point, Kelsey was done with this relationship and wanted no more contact from the defendant and on one instance texted, 'I am done.' The defendant texted her 115 lines of texts and continued texting her throughout the night. The next morning she texted, 'Stop acting crazy,' and this happened repeatedly between May 1 and May 31 of 2018. Eventually, Kelsey became so stressed from this interaction of the harassing texts that she started going into pre-term labor because she was pregnant with the second child at this point. On Mother's Day during May 2018 things got bad again, and the defendant told Kelsey that he was going to give her one last Mother's Day present and threatened to kill himself. He came to her house and she called 911."

Zellinger said a sheriff's deputy told her "she really needed to think about Cody Henson's future and everything that he had worked for."

He said that she also went to a magistrate to "try to take out charges to get this harassing behavior to stop, but was turned away."

Zellinger also said that Kelsey met with Sheriff David Mahoney and that "there were still no charges."

From reading the texts, Zellinger said "two things are clear: she didn't want to talk to him anymore and he refused to stop."

Edney, who is also a Henderson County commissioner, addressed Martelle.

"I think it needs to be said that had we gone through with the trial, a majority of this would have never have come in and anything would have been contested substantially, but as to a factual basis to support this plea, nothing further," Edney said.

Before reviewing the charge and the sentence, Martelle heard a statement from Kelsey in which she alleged that her efforts to bring charges to Henson had been met with resistance from Cody, his family and friends, and a "deep-seated, right wing brotherhood that controls this county and state."

"For me this process has been absolutely exhausting," she said. "Our marriage was a living nightmare. From lies, infidelity, manipulation, the list goes on. I don't want to rehash and relive the past, but Cody put me through pure hell. He made me feel powerless and trapped. He was able to insert himself into my life and into my head whenever he wanted, no matter how much I begged and pleaded for him to stop. But the narrative changes today. This is no longer the story of a respected and powerful man being brought down by a scorned woman. This is the story of a woman beating the odds and facing the giants to take her life back."

She said in her statement that she has gone from being homeless at six-months pregnant to now being independent.

"I've focused on reaching my own goals and giving my children the amazing life that they deserve," she said. "I wish Cody all the best, and I hope that he has a great life and can be a good father to our children, but I'm walking away from all of this and washing my hands of every piece of control he once had over me, not because he didn't realize my worth and value but because I finally realized my own."

As previously reported, on March 26 Henson announced he would not seek re-election in 2020 for District 113, which includes Transylvania County.

The Transylvania Times contacted Mahoney for comment.

"These accusations are completely false," he said. "That's the simplest statement I can make about it.

"I can tell you without question we responded to every inquiry she's made. We've given her the same advice we would have given any other victim in terms of going to a magistrate to pursue charges on a misdemeanor crime. We have not done anything more or less in this case than we do in any other similar situation.

"I'm disappointed that she's made those comments, and disappointed that she feels that way. But you really don't have to look much further than beyond court today. She reported a crime to us in which she named Mr. Henson as a suspect, and we generated an incident report, fully investigated that crime and, ultimately, pursued charges. I'm at a loss how she can claim that we have not helped her.

N.C. Rep. Cody Henson

"We have responded every time she's called, we've given her appropriate advice on steps to take, and ultimately investigated a crime that she reported to us and brought criminal charges against the suspect.

"I want to go clearly on the record of saying it's preposterous to claim there is some sort of right-wing anything. My commitment to the citizens of this community is to do the right thing the right way for the right reasons, and that's exactly what we've done in this and all other cases."

Henson released a statement, where he said that he intends to fulfill his commitment to represent his district and will not be resigning from office.

In entering this agreement, Henson does acknowledge, in hindsight, that he was overly zealous in his attempts to save his marriage. He does not regret attempting to keep his family intact, but does now see that his methods were wrong.

 
 

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