North Vernon Police arrested a local man on felony charges of child molestation and kidnapping following an investigation into the disappearance of a 9-year-old girl on August 16.
Charles Edward Hensley, 57, North Vernon, was charged with Child Molesting, a Level 1 felony, and Kidnapping, a Level 5 felony.
According to court documents, the North Vernon Police Department (NVPD) received a report of a missing female juvenile the evening of August 16. The mother told police her daughter had been missing for approximately two hours and was last seen riding her bicycle.
The report also said a witness allegedly told the mother they had seen the girl walking with a man who supposedly lived in a nearby apartment building.
Later that evening while patrolling the area, NVPD Sgt. Lucas Newsom observed the mother walking toward him with her daughter, who had been found on a walking trail near a local park. Newsom said the girl was crying and told him that an older man, who she had seen at the apartment building mentioned by the witness, had been following her while she was riding her bicycle. The girl told Newsom the man refused her requests to stop following her and that she was allegedly sexually assaulted by the man.
Shortly thereafter, a man matching the girl’s description of her alleged assailant was observed leaving a wooded area near the park and going to a local gas station. The man, later identified as Hensley, was detained for questioning and later identified in a photo lineup as the man who allegedly sexually assaulted the girl.
A tarp shelter, foam padding, blankets and clothing were found in the wooded area where Hensley was allegedly seen leaving on his way to the gas station.
Hensley was lodged in the Jennings County Jail. He appeared at an initial hearing on August 26 with bond set at $80,000.
A three-day jury trial has been scheduled in the case for 9 a.m. on December 12. The more serious of the two charges, the Level I felony, is punishable by 20-40 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 in Indiana.