NC legislator served with domestic violence order of protection

BY KATE MARTIN, Carolina Public Press

The wife of state Rep. Cody Henson took out a domestic violence order of protection against him last month in Transylvania County. The Transylvania Courthouse, seen here, is in Brevard. File Photo

State Rep. Cody Henson, R-Transylvania, was served with a domestic violence protection order late last month, records from the Transylvania County Courthouse show.

Cody Henson

Rep. Cody Henson

His wife, Kelsey Henson, told Carolina Public Press on Thursday that she sought help for nearly a year from law enforcement and others from behavior she describes in court filings as harassment and emotional abuse.

She filed the paperwork on Jan. 30. Cody Henson was served with the protection order the next day, court records show.

“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 said. “I truly feel that was because of his position.”

She or a relative called 911 several times for help starting in April 2018, when the pair separated, she said. CPP has requested copies of the 911 call transcripts.

Then in June, she said, she approached a Transylvania County magistrate for help.

“His exact words were: ‘Those guys have a lot of legal aid, and I don’t feel comfortable proceeding with this,’ after he Googled Rep. Henson to see what political party he was affiliated with,” Kelsey Hanson said of her conversation with the magistrate, whose name she doesn’t remember.

Rep. Henson won in a landslide election in 2016 to become one of the youngest legislators at the state Capitol. He represents Polk and Transylvania counties as well as part of Henderson County. In a profile posted in late 2016, Henson said he is a Christian conservative whose family has lived in the area for generations.

When asked for comment, Rep. Henson replied with a short statement:

“This is a family matter, and while I will refute many of the allegations, I look forward to resolving it amicably through the legal process to do what is in the best interest of our children and put these difficult times behind us.”

House Speaker Rep. Tim Moore, R-Kings Mountain, declined to comment on the issue. House Minority Leader Darren Jackson, D-Raleigh, did not return a request for comment.

“I am asking for a protective order to keep me and my children safe,” Kelsey Henson wrote in her court filing. “I am in fear for my life and need this desperately.”

The filing also said their son “witnessed physical and verbal fights before and during our separation.”

Their daughter is now 6 months old. They also have a 3 1/2-year-old son.

On Mother’s Day last year, she wrote in court paperwork, Rep. Henson sent a text that “he wanted to disappear and he was coming to my house to give me ‘one last Mother’s Day gift.’ ” She called the Sheriff’s Office. He left her a box of pearls and a “disturbing note” in her mailbox.

The pair’s next court appearance is Feb. 19. Until then, Rep. Henson must stay 100 feet away from Kelsey Henson, is not allowed to buy any firearms and has been ordered to surrender any he currently has to the local sheriff. Rep. Henson was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves for several years.

Kelsey Henson told CPP she was pregnant much of last year and said she was afraid to speak out. “I didn’t know what else to do.” She contacted SAFE of Transylvania County, an organization that helps domestic violence victims and which she said has “definitely been helpful.”

“I don’t know what the outcome is going to be of all of this, but I’m thankful for the peace it’s given me so far,” Kelsey Henson said. “I don’t think victim-blaming is appropriate — and I was one who used to trust the system. I’ve lost all faith in it.”