Man gets lengthy sentence in abuse case

WELLSBURG – A Wellsburg man has been sentenced to 55 to 65 years in prison for the sexual abuse of a minor, possessing child pornography and sending obscene material to a minor.

Luther E. Hendricks Jr., 43, of Wellsburg, was sentenced Monday to 10 to 20 years in prison for the sexual abuse of a minor in his care, two years each for 10 counts of possession of child pornography and five years each for five counts of using e-mail to send obscene material to a minor.

The sentence was ordered by Circuit Court Judge Ronald Wilson after Hendricks pleaded guilty to each charge and entered a plea agreement proposed by Brooke County Prosecutor Joseph Barki III.

Barki said the charges stem from Hendricks allegedly touching a private area of a minor between January 2009 and November 2011, sexually explicit photos of children found on his computer by police and his using e-mail to send photos of partially or fully unclothed women to a minor.

The case was investigated by West Virginia State Police.

The case had been set to go to trial after Hendricks declined to accept a previous plea agreement offered by Barki.

Jack Wood, Hendricks’ court-appointed attorney, said he was prepared to defend against charges faced by his client that carried lesser penalties but the weightier penalties for the others influenced Hendricks to enter the plea agreement.

Barki dropped three of four counts of sexual abuse by a custodian for which Hendricks was indicted by a Brooke County grand jury in November.

He said the victim and the victim’s family supported the plea agreement. Barki submitted two impact statements from the family for review by a parole board should he be considered for a reduced sentence.

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