Cyberstalking Case Prosecuted, Lawmaker Resigns – 7/24/19

Update on situation with Rep. Cody Henson (R-Transylvania). The restraining order against Henson, and the trouble Henson’s now estranged wife had getting it in small town North Carolina, were the impetus for a Town Hall in Brevard last February and another Town Hall in Winston-Salem in AprilHenson was in the news in June 2019, for missing court, but the bigger news hit on July 23, when he finally made it to court (after yet another postponement). Henson actually pleaded guilty to cyberstalking his estranged wife, and he resigned the next day.

Partial Panel at Domestic Violence Awareness Town Hall in Brevard NC on 2/18/19. Photo Credit: Gailya Paliga

On Jun 27, 2019, Carolina Public Press published “Lawmaker’s criminal cyberstalking case continued to July 9” which gave some great updates from our February event. 

  1. “During a first appearance on the criminal charge in March, Judge Roy Wijewickrama ordered Rep. Henson to give up any guns and called for a third party to handle exchanging his children for visitation.”
  2. District Attorney Greg Newman recused himself from the case in March, saying he had supported Henson’s campaign. So the prosecution was taken over by the office of Attorney General Josh Stein
  3. “Henson had been due in Transylvania County court Thursday [6/27/19] after a previous continuance from early May. However, neither he nor the lawyers for the two sides appeared in the Brevad’s crowded “small courtroom” as the names of criminal defendants were read out.” Instead, clerks told the room that there has been a note declaring a further continuance, but this one delayed the next hearing a few weeks, not a few months like the last one had. The next appearance was set for July 9.
  4. On July 9th, Henson’s attorney got the cyberstalking matter postponed again, to July 23! The excuse was that Henson was needed in Raleigh at the NCGA.

Finally, Henson goes to court on 7/23/19. Again, thanks to Carolina Public Press, we find out that “Rep. Henson pleads guilty to cyberstalking, won’t resign,” 7/23/19. “Henson pleaded guilty to one count of cyberstalking in Transylvania County court Tuesday morning, accepting an agreement with the NC Department of Justice for deferred prosecution and 18 months of probation.”

Then the next day, 7/24/19, Henson resigned. Read about it in “Henson reverses course day after guilty plea, resigns from NC legislature,” 7/24/19, Carolina Public Press.

Times they are a-changing. 

It is good to know that Henson is also under a domestic violence protection order that prevents him having guns and from contacting his estranged wife throughout his 18-month probation. Hopefully that will be enough to keep his wife and children safe.

But consider how that case may have gone differently if it had all been handled in the small town NC. Henson’s lawyer, J. Michael Edney, is also a county commissioner in Henderson County. The local DA had contributed to the legislator’s campaign. This may have gone very differently if Henson had been someone with a lower profile.


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