NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A middle Tennessee man was sentenced in federal court yesterday to serve 35 years in federal prison for crimes related to the production of child exploitation material.
The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Mark H. Wildasin and HSI Nashville Special Agent in Charge Jerry C. Templet, Jr.
Following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Joshua Marc Hendon (Joshua), 36, and his wife, Lori Hendon (Lori), both of Minor Hill, Tennessee, were indicted in October 2017 on charges of conspiracy to produce child pornography, nine counts of production of child pornography and possession of child pornography.
In November 2019, Joshua pleaded guilty to all charges and admitted that he was a registered sex offender when he and his wife moved to Minor Hill, Tennessee, in the fall of 2015. There, they befriended a nearby family that included two minor girls under the age of 12, and their disabled father who struggled to care for the girls. Both girls began to visit the Hendon home regularly where Lori took care of them.
In October 2015, Joshua began communicating with the girls online, using the text application Kik. On several occasions, he convinced the younger of the two girls to send him explicit photos. During one Kik chat conversation, the girl offered to send explicit photos to Joshua in an effort to avoid having him physically molest her. Joshua also enlisted the help of his wife to take photos of the girls when they were nude and taking baths in the Hendon home.
A subsequent forensic examination of Joshua’s cell phones and other electronic devices found numerous images of child pornography, including over 30 sexually explicit images of the two girls. Forensic interviews of the girls disclosed that Joshua had touched them inappropriately.
The case against Lori Hendon remains pending and she is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
“Protecting innocent children from sexual predators remains one of our highest priorities,” said U.S. Attorney Wildasin. “I commend our law enforcement partners and prosecutors who work diligently to identify these predators and bring them to justice so that they no longer have the opportunity to exploit any child again.”
HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.
If you suspect a child is a victim of child exploitation, you are encouraged to call the HSI Tipline at 866-347-2423, or visit https://www.ice.gov/tipline.
Learn more about HSI Nashville’s efforts to fight child exploitation in your community at @HSI_Nashville.