Politics & Government

NC lawmaker faces calls to resign following domestic violence ruling

ncleg.gov

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 domestic 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.

Paul “Andy” Specht reports on North Carolina leaders and state politics for The News & Observer and PolitiFact. Specht previously covered Raleigh City Hall and town governments around the Triangle. He’s a Raleigh native who graduated from Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. Contact him at aspecht@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4870.
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