Tennessee man faces federal charges in child exploitation after HSI investigation
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A criminal complaint unsealed May 20, charges a former Tennessee school nurse with attempted production of child pornography.
This continuing investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Secret Service, FBI, and Clarksville Police Department, has produced more than 40 victims so far that are suspected to be students at North East High School and range in age from 12-17.
The announcement was made by the acting U.S. attorney for the middle district of Tennessee.
Leon B. Hensley, 40, formerly of Clarksville and currently living in Lake Whales, Florida, was arrested this morning near his home in Florida. He will appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Tampa, Florida, later today.
According to the criminal complaint, from August 2017 through November 2019, Hensley was employed as a nurse at North East High School in Clarksville. In November 2019, Clarksville Police Department (CPD) received a referral from the Tennessee Department of Children Services advising that Hensley sent a digital image, via text message, of a nude adult female to a minor female in the Clarksville area. Hensley had been communicating with the minor female via text and asked her to help him with a photo shoot by posing for photos.
During the CPD follow-on investigation and a search of his phone, several images were discovered depicting the sexual exploitation of children. During a subsequent search warrant for Hensley’s house, numerous electronic devices were seized, including a small covert video camera. The initial examination of Hensley’s phone led to the discovery of nude images which were identified as female students at North East High School (NEHS). Due to the enormous amount of imagery on Henley’s devices, U.S. Secret Service joined the investigation and conducted a more thorough forensic examination of his electronic devices. This examination located several imagery files depicting what appeared to be unidentified minor females photographed surreptitiously by a hidden camera while using a restroom. Other imagery files depict unidentified females in hospital examination rooms, pre-operation or post operation rooms and nude females in tanning beds.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents joined the investigation last month and to date, more than 700 imagery files of minor females in a single bathroom, in various stages of undress and/or utilizing the bathroom facilities have been discovered. The images appear to have been taken by a hidden or concealed camera, positioned to capture or attempt to capture the lewd and lascivious display of the genitalia and positioned in the same location in all images. The camera was positioned directly across and in front of the toilet seat at toilet seat level. Further investigation determined that the bathroom depicted in the images is the private student bathroom in the nurse’s station at NEHS. Other images found geolocate to Tennova Hospital in Clarksville, where Hensley was employed prior to NEHS.
Hensley faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years, and up to life in prison if convicted.
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. 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.