Sex charge dropped after Hensley apologizes for ‘joke’

By Cassondra Kirby-Mullins

HARLAN — A felony sex charge has been dismissed against Otis “Bullman” Hensley Jr., a two-time candidate for governor who was arrested after he offered to trade “a good fattening hog” for two female children in a supermarket.

Otis "Bullman" Hensley Jr.

Otis Hensley Jr.

Although Hensley does have a pet pig, he said he was joking when he made the statement to the aunt of a 13-year-old girl and her 11-year-old sister while shopping at Don’s Supersaver in Harlan County.

“I was trying to be friendly,” he said.

Hensley said the phrase has historically been used in Eastern Kentucky as a way of complimenting someone’s children.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard him say that to people,” Hensley’s wife, Mae, said Monday. “He won’t say it anymore, I can tell you that.”

When he realized the family was offended, Hensley said he repeatedly tried to apologize. He also attempted to explain the misunderstanding to the Harlan County attorney’s office, where the girls’ father went to press charges.

“They wouldn’t listen,” said Hensley, 52, who was arrested Aug. 18 and charged with first-degree attempted unlawful transaction with a minor.

Hensley spent three days at the Harlan County jail before his son paid the $15,000 cash bond to get him out.

In Harlan District Court Monday, prosecutor J.D. Smith, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney, acknowledged that authorities believe Hensley “absolutely meant no harm” by his statement.

“It was a joke to him,” Smith said.

Smith moved to dismiss the charge on the condition that Hensley apologize and agree not to have any contact with the family.

“He may be a good man,” the girls’ father said of Hensley. “I was just protecting my kids. I think everybody would have done the same thing. My kids are my life.”

The father declined to comment to reporters after the hearing. The Herald-Leader typically does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes.

Hensley said he is outraged he spent two nights in jail.

“Anyone can go get a warrant against another person for any reason and have them put in jail,” he said. “That should not be allowed.”

“This has ruined my reputation,” he said. “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

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19 Comments on “Sex charge dropped after Hensley apologizes for ‘joke’”

  1. Tom Dupree, Jr. Says:

    No, Bullman, your reputation is not ruined. The phrase you used, which was so erroneously used against you, is indeed high praise for one’s children, especially daughters. It refers back to the old mountain practice of offering a dowry for marriage. What you meant to say is those are beautiful girls, and will be marriageable.

    The shame is not on you, but on the folks who cannot understand who they are and where they came from. You certainly do, and I applaud you.

  2. Joe LeDuc Says:

    Otis, and everyone else, SHOULD be outraged. It is unbelievable that law enforcement could not use common sense and step in to make the situation right before they chose to put Otis in jail. Now Otis’s name will forever be needlessly linked to a child sex charge. If you don’t believe me, just Google his name and see what you find. One header reads “Otis Hensley Busted For Sex With Minor – WHAS11 Political Blog.” The headline doesn’t say “said something to a young girl’s grandmother,” it says “Busted For Sex With Minor.”

    No matter what you think of Otis Hensley, you should be outraged at how this has played out. It could happen to you.

    The people who made the false accusations that landed this man in jail for two nights and sullied his name remain anonymous. The article says “The Herald-Leader typically does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes.” While that is a noble policy, the Herald Leader also has a history of naming those who falsely allege they are victims of a sex crime. Then again, maybe that Herald Leader double standard only applies if you are a UK basketball player.

  3. Eric Says:

    Tom Dupree, Jr. said “It refers back to the old mountain practice of offering a dowry for marriage. What you meant to say is those are beautiful girls, and will be marriageable.”

    …and he had no business whatsoever making such comments.

  4. mr man Says:

    What a crock.
    This should be a sheer indication of how messed up the sex laws are when it comes to minors in this once great country.

    Male teachers get the book thrown at them, while female teachers get a couple months of probation.

    This poor guy stays in jail for TWO nights for reciting an old nursery ryme.

    And the actual perps get off scott free by not having their stupidity shown to the world.. because “victims” of sex abuse can’t be named.

  5. Brad Davis Says:

    It’s too bad that silly over-zealous ridiculousness like this happens all the time these days. Stupid work on the part of the police, and pretty stupid on the part of the childrens’ father for that matter.

  6. Mark Bryant Says:

    It it truly a shame that we live in a society where an off the cuff comment can get a man arrested without the interjection of critical thinking or common sense. And no, the father was not “just protecting his kids”, he was showing them life without thinking.

    It is further a shame that our media, in constant search for that extra 1/10 point of ratings will milk a story for their benefit, without regard to the folks behind the story and before the details and facts come out. The current mantra of “never let facts get in the way of a good story” is yet another reason the media is held in such low regard.

    Two days in jail for such an innocuous comment? Somebody in Harlan owes Hensley some money for his time and reputation. Maybe they can sell the thinking cap that is so obviously not being used.

  7. Scott Anthis Says:

    It’s KENTUCKY fer Gawd’s sake!!! Seriously, whenever you hear someone say anything along the lines of “… kids are my life” it’s time to get scared. I work with a guy who is under the impression that ANYTHING can somehow be construed as an insult to his wife. Some people just enjoy being offended. It typically arises in folks with zero sense of humor.

  8. PNW Farmboy Says:

    “I think everybody would have done the same thing.”

    No, no they wouldn’t have. You have succesfully wasted taxpayer money to sully a mans reputation for no good reason at all.

    I mean come on. If you or your sister don’t have the mental capacity to see that a statement such as the one made was meant to be a compliment, neither of you should have the right to raise children. It’s people like you that are sending this country to political correctness hell in a handbasket.

    It probably is a good thing that this brainiacs name isn’t revealed. people of his same mental capacity would cause problems for his family over this.

  9. Sharon Smith Says:

    I vote sending the false accusers AND the judge AND the media to jail!!

    For 70 x 7 x 2 days = wow, 980 days of jail time!

    But that’s what the Bible says to do….

  10. Ryan Smith Says:

    Hensley should not have agreed to apologize and have no contact with the family. While it got the charges dropped, it was an admission of guilt he should not have felt compelled to make. I’m a father, and of course I would defend my child, but I also recognize an innocent compliment when I hear one. Hensley should sue the father for defamation of character — and the father should be named, regardless of the Herald-Leader’s policy. Vitims of sexual abuse should of course remain anonymous — but not people who overreact to colorful colloquialism and ruin a man’s reptation.

  11. Darren Says:

    DISGUSTING! I can only hope that Otis consults a lawyer after he realizes what this has done to his name. Unfortunately many believe it’s better to duck and run while you can, but this crap has got to stop. It’s way too easy to destroy somebody today with all the media available, your name is basically soured forever, even if found untrue. Stick it to them, and make others give second thought to malicious intent the next time they teeter on overreaction! That, and if charges have been dropped, the accusers should be revealed! Be fair! It may protect the rest of us who may be unfortunate enough to cross their paths!

  12. Ray Says:

    Hensley should swear out a warrant against the father for false arrest. Sounds fair to me.

  13. Brian Macker Says:

    The prosecutor J.D. Smith is an idiot. Why should the victim in this case, the defendant, agree to apologize for a complement, or agree not to have contact with a family that he should be suing for defamation.

  14. WM Says:

    “Anyone can go get a warrant against another person for any reason and have them put in jail,” he said. “That should not be allowed.”

    True, but not if our goal is to facilitate the prosecution of any thing that might in any way be construed as a sex crime of any magnitude whatsoever. That’s because we now take the complainant’s perception rather than the accused’s actual intent as the measure of whether a crime was commited, and then we drop the requirement of actual evidence. More sex crime convictions, but also more innocent men in jail. But hey, they’re men, who cares?

    There are so many brownie points for cops and politicians in being ‘tough on this kind of crime’ that there is little incentive to protect innocent people. Because once they’re accused, they’ll always be seen as guilty anyway, so nobody will dare to protest. Not, at least, until they are accused themselves and find that no one will help them for fear of ‘protecting pedophiles.’

  15. DANC Says:


  16. AN Says:

    Well, people should realize they are living in a politically correct and litigious world today, more so than ever, where it is NOT smart to see, implicate, or place such young girls (11 and 13) in such a context. There are a hundred ways to compliment a parent or grandparent on the beauty of their young daughters without relying on such potentially inflammatory language or inference. This is a VERY poor choice of wording, at best, regardless of the historical or linguistic meaning of the term. At worst, it’s exactly what it was interpreted to be. Bottom line, it’s VERY off color and potentially dangerous (some dads might pop someone in the mouth for such an offense) to say that one would trade a nice fattening hog for a couple of very young girls, unless you’re the Blues Brothers. If the girls were of marrying age, say 16 or 17, maybe it wouldn’t have been taken so seriously by everyone involved. Tough lesson to learn.

  17. Jim Says:

    He was a democratic candidate for governor.
    If he was a republican candidate for govenor.all the news reports would say that.

  18. charles Says:

    Must be a Democrat. IF he was a republican, that would have been the the headline would have read: sex-charge-dropped-after-republican hensley-apologizes-for-joke

  19. aelfheld Says:

    Oh Hell, there’s not a d—-d thing wrong with what Hensley said. Just because the girl’s father is an idiot and an ignoramus doesn’t mean Hensley should have been put in jail.

    The father should have taken the hog – he needs the intellectual challenge.

    Thought crimes – the new frontier.

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