Trial slated for child abuse case

WELLSBURG – A Wellsburg-area man is expected to stand trial for multiple charges of sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.

The Brooke County Prosecutor’s Office and legal counsel for Luther E. Hendricks Jr., 43, have moved forward with preparations for a trial after Hendricks declined to enter a proposed plea agreement on Monday.

A status hearing for the case is set for Jan. 24.

Brooke County Prosecutor Joseph Barki III said Hendricks would have faced 46-50 years in prison if he had pleaded guilty to 16 of 20 counts for which he was charged.

A Brooke County grand jury indicted Hendricks on four counts of sexual abuse by a custodian for allegedly engaging in sexual contact with a child under his care between Jan. 1, 2009, and Nov. 2, 2011; 10 counts of possession of child pornography; and five counts of displaying that material to a minor between May and September.

According to court records, the West Virginia State Police found several pornographic images involving children on his computer.

Hendricks also was indicted for failing to register as a sexual offender after being convicted of possession of child pornography in 2000. According to the indictment, Hendricks didn’t notify authorities of a new e-mail address he allegedly used to distribute the child pornography.

Jack Wood, Hendricks’ court-appointed attorney, couldn’t be reached for comment.