North Carolina State Representative Cody Henson received a criminal summons from the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office yesterday. This follows an investigation into complaints of harassment made by his estranged wife, Kelsey Henson.
Local Democratic Party leaders are now calling on the Republican lawmaker to resign.
Cody Henson placed under “no contact” order
On January 30th, Kelsey Henson filed a request for a domestic violence protection order against her husband. As reported in the Carolina Public Press, Henson’s wife said she had been trying unsuccessfully to get support from local law enforcement for over a year.
“I am asking for a protective order to keep me and my children safe,” she wrote in the filing. “I am in fear for my life and need this desperately.”
During the month delay between the filing and the court hearing, the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation into alleged cyberstalking by Henson (a class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina).
According to a 911 call placed by Kelsey Henson, her husband has been sending her a string of disturbing text messages.
“He said he was going to disappear, and it would be better for everybody if he would just die,” she told an operator in May 2018.
At the hearing to consider the request for a protection ten days ago, a judge issued a “protective no contact” order against Cody Henson.
After looking at a binder full of messages from the state representative, he determined that they were not threatening, but did constitute harassment.
On Wednesday, following its cyberstalking investigation, the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office issued a criminal summons against Cody Henson.
Cody Henson’s attorney, J. Michael Edney, yesterday confirmed that he received a copy of the summons.
“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,” he said.
Democrats call on Henson to resign
Following the news of the criminal summons, prominent leaders in the North Carolina Democratic Party began calling on Henson to resign yesterday morning.
“Any form of domestic violence or abuse is categorically unacceptable,” said Julia Buckner, Democratic Women of North Carolina President. “The Democratic Party believes women and we are steadfast in our commitment to stand with survivors. Cody Henson must resign immediately.”
State Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin called on Republican leaders to join in the condemnations.
“Representative Henson must not be protected by the silence of his party,” he said.
“It is unacceptable that Speaker Moore and the North Carolina Republican Party are trying to sweep this reprehensible behavior under the rug. Republican leaders should take this opportunity to stand with survivors of domestic violence and join us in calling on Representative Henson to resign.”
The power of the NC GOP
According to his wife, Cody Henson has so far received protection because of his office and in particular because of his membership in the Republican Party.
“Every time I tried to report it and called 911 or went to a magistrate to try to get help, I was denied,” she said. “I truly feel that was because of his position.”
In June 2018 she approached a Transylvania County magistrate for help, but was turned down.
Speaking to the Carolina Public Press, she said, “His exact words were: ‘Those guys have a lot of legal aid, and I don’t feel comfortable proceeding with this.'”
Republicans control both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly. Prior to the 2018 elections, the GOP held supermajorities in both chambers.
Cody Henson was first elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2016 at age 24, making him one of the youngest state legislators in the country. He won his Western North Carolina seat in a landslide, and was reelected in 2018.