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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Josh Henley Sentenced to Forty-Five Years in Prison for Sex Crimes Against Children

josh henley

In June 2021, Josh Henley, a former youth pastor at Washington Avenue Church of Christ in Evansville, Indiana, was arrested on three counts of statutory rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery.

Tristate Home Page reported at the time:

Josh Henley, 32, of Newburgh was arrested in Benton County, Tennessee on three counts of statutory rape. He’s also charged with aggravated sexual battery.

Authorities say there are at least three teenage girls who are confirmed as victims. Henley is being held in the Benton County Jail on a $500,000 bond and will be arraigned tomorrow.

Investigators believe there may be more victims in other states, including Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas. Eyewitness News contacted Evansville Police, the Vanderburgh County Sheriff and the Warrick County Sheriff. They told us they do not have anything in their system about Henley.

Court documents say Henley is currently employed at Washington Avenue Church of Christ in Evansville. Officials at the church declined to comment at this time.

After Henley’s arrest, Washington Avenue Church of Christ fired him: The church released the following statement:

On behalf of our entire church family, the Eldership at Washington Avenue Church of Christ is praying for accountability, healing and justice in light of the recent arrest of Joshua Henley who served as our youth minister for the past three months. Mr. Henley’s employment with the church has been terminated effective immediately and he has been relieved of all duties and responsibilities. We take the allegations against Mr. Henley very seriously and will fully cooperate with law enforcement in connection with all investigations. We are heartbroken by this news and our prayers are with all involved.

ABC-24 reports:

The U.S. Department of Justice said in 2018, Henley was pastor at Holladay Church of Christ in Benton County and coached Holladay Elementary School’s girls’ basketball team. In April 2021, they said he took a position with a church in Evansville, Indiana. Then in June 2021, he drove back to Tennessee to pick up a girl, taking her back to Indiana to “help with his Vacation Bible School there.” Prosecutors said Henley had sex with the girl who had just turned 15. They said the girl told them that Henley had been engaging in sexual activity since she was 13, and asking her to take sexually explicit pictures to send him through a chat app.

Investigators said in 2020, another 15-year-old girl in Evansville said Henley asked her to send sexually explicit pictures to him.

Henley was arrested in June 2021 as he was driving the first girl back to Tennessee. Investigators said after getting a warrant for his cell phone, they found sexually explicit pictures of both girls, and video of Henley having sex with a third girl in November 2020, who had just turned 14.

In 2022, Henley pleaded guilty.

ABC-24 reported:

A Tennessee pastor and girls’ basketball coach has pleaded guilty to child exploitation charges.

Joshua Henley, 33, who has lived in Benton County, Tennessee, and Evansville, Indiana, is set to be sentenced in August after pleading to charges of producing sexual abuse material involving three minors, transporting a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity, sending obscene videos and images to a minor, and possessing and transporting child sexual abuse material.

Today, Henley was sentenced to forty-five years in prison for his crimes.

Tristate Home Page reports:

A former youth pastor at Washington Avenue Church of Christ in Evansville has been sentenced after he was arrested on sexual assault charges.

Officials say Joshua Henley, formerly of Benton County, Tennessee, and Evansville, Indiana, pled guilty in federal district court to an eight-count indictment, admitting that he produced child sexual abuse material involving three minors, transported a minor interstate with the intent to engage in sexual activity with the minor, sent obscene videos and images to a minor and possessed and transported child sexual abuse material.

Documents say Henley was arrested on June 18, 2021, as he was driving one of his victims back to Benton County. Investigators say they found a cell phone in his possession and obtained a warrant to search it and found sexually explicit images of his victims, as well as a video of Henley having sexual intercourse with another victim.

A federal judge handed down a sentence of 45 years in prison plus 10 years supervised release.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    “{H}e drove back to Tennessee to pick up a girl, taking her back to Indiana to “’help with his Vacation Bible School there.’”

    “To help with his vacation Bible school,” Uh-huh. Just like the young men in my old prayer group wanted to help an attractive young woman in “doing the Lord’s work.”

    I’m glad he’s getting locked up.

  2. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Yes,it sounds like he was on the verge of engaging in human trafficking of some kind,had he not been caught in time. Just ugh !! These people,I swear ! You know he’ll get his but kicked in prison.

  3. Avatar

    It still amazes me that conservatives, particularly conservative Christians, are so vocal about human trafficking. The more cases like this there are involving religious people, the more it makes me think, no wonder conservatives are so vocal about human trafficking because so many of their own are doing it.

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