A former Indiana youth pastor could spend the rest of his life in prison after reaching a plea agreement in a sex abuse case involving minors.
Joshua Henley, 33, faced an eight-count federal indictment for producing, possessing and sending sex abuse material involving children and transporting a minor interstate to have sex, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Memphis. He pleaded guilty to a single count of sexual exploitation of a minor.
Henley was a pastor at Holladay Church of Christ in Tennessee’s Benton County and served as a volunteer basketball coach with the Holladay Elementary School girls’ basketball team. In April 2021, he took a position as a youth pastor at Washington Avenue Church of Christ in Evansville.
Two months later, he drove to Tennessee to pick up a female minor so she could help with his Vacation Bible School program in Evansville. While in Indiana, Henley had sex with the 15-year-old. The girl later disclosed she’d been involved in sexual activity with Henley since she was 13 and that Henley had asked her to share explicit pictures with him via chat programs.
While Henley was in Indiana, another juvenile said he had asked her to send him explicit images in 2020, federal prosecutors said.
Henley was arrested in June 2021 while driving back to Tennessee with the girl he’d taken to Indiana for sex. Investigators obtained a warrant for his cell phone, where they found explicit images of both girls and video of Henley having sex with a third minor. The video had been taken just after the girl had turned 14.
Henley worked with young people in several states, including Indiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas. He faces 15 years to life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 23, 2022.