Plea considered in child abuse case

WELLSBURG – A child sexual abuse case that was slated to go to trial in Brooke County may end with a plea agreement.

A hearing was held Thursday to set a date for the trial of Luther E. Hendricks Jr., 43, of Wellsburg, who was indicted on four counts of sexual abuse by a custodian, 10 counts of possession of child pornography and five counts of displaying that material to a minor.

But Jack Wood, Hendricks’ court-appointed attorney, said Brooke County Prosecutor Joseph Barki III has proposed a new plea agreement that Hendricks may accept.

A hearing on the matter has been set for Feb. 4.

Hendricks didn’t accept a plea agreement proposed by Barki earlier. It would have involved a potential prison sentence of 46-50 years for pleading guilty to 16 of the 20 counts for which he was charged.

Wood declined to comment, and Barki wasn’t available for comment.

According to court records, the West Virginia State Police found several pornographic images involving children on Hendricks’ 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 a Brooke County grand jury indictment, Hendricks didn’t notify authorities of a new e-mail address he allegedly used to distribute the pornography.

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