Former Benton Co. pastor, coach pleads guilty to child exploitation

BENTON COUNTY, Tenn. — A former pastor and school coach has pleaded guilty to child exploitation.

33-year-old Joshua Henley, formerly of Benton County, Tennessee and Evansville, Indiana, pled guilty on Monday in federal district court to an eight-count indictment.

According to a news release, Henley admitted to producing child sexual abuse material involving three minors, transporting a minor across state lines with the intention of engaging in sexual activity, sending obscene photos and videos to a minor, and possessing and transporting child sexual abuse material.

Information presented in court confirmed that beginning in 2018, Henley was the pastor at Holladay Church of Christ in Benton County. He also served as coach for the Holladay Elementary School girls’ basketball team.

A news release says in April 2021, Henley accepted a position at a church in Evansville, Indiana. In June 2021, Henley drove back to Tennessee to pick up a 15-year-old female identified as “Minor C” and transported her to Indiana to allegedly help at his Vacation Bible School. The release states that while in Indiana, the two engaged in sexual activity. Minor C would later disclose that Henley had been engaging in sexual activity with her since she was 13, and had asked her to send him sexually explicit photos.

While Henley was in Indiana with the minor, another 15-year-old female identified as “Minor B” told a trusted adult that Henley asked her to created and send obscene photos to him.

On June 18, 2021, Henley was arrested as he was driving back to Benton County from Indiana with Minor C. A release states that investigators found a cell phone in Henley’s possession and obtained a search warrant to inspect it.

According to the release, the search of the phone revealed sexually explicit images of Minor C and Minor B, as well as a video of Henley having sex with another female, “Minor A.” Metadata showed that the recording was produced in November 2020, just a few months after Minor A turned 14.

Henley’s sentencing has been set for August 23, 2022 before Chief U.S. District Judge S. Thomas Anderson in Jackson. A release states Henley will be incarcerated for at least fifteen years and faces the possibility of life in prison.

To read the full release from the U.S. Department of Justice, click here.

For more local crime stories, click here.

Categories: Crime, Local News, News, Video