HARLAN — A felony sex charge has been dismissed against Otis "Bullman" Hensley Jr., a two-time candidate for governor who was arrested after he offered to trade "a good fattening hog" for two female children in a supermarket.
Although Hensley does have a pet pig, he said he was joking when he made the statement to the aunt of a 13-year-old girl and her 11-year-old sister while shopping at Don's Supersaver in Harlan County.
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"I was trying to be friendly," he said.
Hensley said the phrase has historically been used in Eastern Kentucky as a way of complimenting someone's children.
"I can't tell you how many times I've heard him say that to people," Hensley's wife, Mae, said Monday. "He won't say it anymore, I can tell you that."
When he realized the family was offended, Hensley said he repeatedly tried to apologize. He also attempted to explain the misunderstanding to the Harlan County attorney's office, where the girls' father went to press charges.
"They wouldn't listen," said Hensley, 52, who was arrested Aug. 18 and charged with first-degree attempted unlawful transaction with a minor.
Hensley spent three days at the Harlan County jail before his son paid the $15,000 cash bond to get him out.
In Harlan District Court Monday, prosecutor J.D. Smith, an assistant commonwealth's attorney, acknowledged that authorities believe Hensley "absolutely meant no harm" by his statement.
"It was a joke to him," Smith said.
Smith moved to dismiss the charge on the condition that Hensley apologize and agree not to have any contact with the family.
"He may be a good man," the girls' father said of Hensley. "I was just protecting my kids. I think everybody would have done the same thing. My kids are my life."
The father declined to comment to reporters after the hearing. The Herald-Leader typically does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes.
Hensley said he is outraged he spent two nights in jail.
"Anyone can go get a warrant against another person for any reason and have them put in jail," he said. "That should not be allowed."
"This has ruined my reputation," he said. "I don't want this to happen to anyone else."