Real Stories Project

05/07/10: Man, 20, assaults girl, 12


Andalusia Star-News



By Stephanie Nelson

Published Thursday, February 25, 2010


Sheriff’s Office investigators said Wednesday, “overwhelming evidence” in the sex abuse case of a 20-year-old Andalusia man accused of having inappropriate relations with a 12-year-old girl will warrant new charges in the coming weeks.

Joseph Hender-son was arrested Tues., Feb. 18, on allegations he used his computer to set up sex dates with the girl. He now faces charges ranging from sexual abuse to enticing a child, electronic solicitation of a child and traveling to meet a child for an unlawful sex act.

Wednesday, investigators shed more light on the case, stating the indiscretions were discovered when the victim’s parents discovered instant message chats, also known as IMs, between Henderson and his alleged victim.

“From there, the parents reported it to the sheriff’s office,” said Investigator Wesley Snodgrass. “We can say there will be more charges filed (against Henderson) in the coming weeks. In this case, the scope of the evidence is overwhelming.”

Snodgrass said computers, cell phones and other media storage devices belonging to both the victim and Henderson were transported to Montgomery’s Alabama Bureau of Investigation for analysis by the case’s lead investigator, Ted Motley, Tuesday.

“From a law enforcement standpoint, I don’t think these cases are becoming more common,” he said. “I believe that parents and family members are being more vigilant and more aware – like in this case.

“For all parents, the first and foremost thing you can do to protect your child from becoming a victim is to know who your children are talking to – check up on them,” he said. “Check their computer. Oftentimes when we go into a home, there is a computer in the child’s room, not in a common family area.

“Computers should be in a family area and have parental controls installed,” he said.

Parents should also hold their children accountable for their actions, Snodgrass said.

“Especially when it comes to cell phones,” he said. “Check their text messages, their call history. Be aware and knowledgeable about sexting. It a is very common practice locally.”

Sexting can be defined as the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, generally between cell phones.

“As parents you need to educate your children in the consequences of these acts and the ramifications it could have on not only their reputations but also their happiness in their school,” he said.