Elderly Tennessee couple accused of raping child family members for years
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — A Tipton County couple has been arrested on charges related to child rape, sexual battery and incest.
John Henley, 70, and Dava Henley, 69, are charged together with two counts of rape of a child, four counts of aggravated sexual battery and two counts of incest. The crimes occurred between 2012 and 2016, according to a grand jury indictment.
John Henley is charged separately with raping a child between 2006 and 2009.
In some cases, the indictment said the couple would force a young boy to engage in sexual activity with a young girl.
Both alleged victims are family members.
"Kids are just such a young age, not knowing any different, thinking that, ‘Hey, life’s supposed to be this way.’ Well, it’s not," said one of the victims' relatives, who WREG isn't identifying in order to protect the victims' identity. "You know, being taught certain things and, you know, what have you, you know, and thinking that it’s right when it’s not,"
The relative said he first learned of the abuse two years ago from the victims' mother.
He said some of it took place at a home on Matthews Road, north of Millington.
It's the same home where two women were found murdered in 2016.
The Tipton County Sheriff's Office confirms it took a report of sexual abuse on the couple in 2017, when they were living at their current home on Reed Circle near Drummonds.
"We’ve had problems with them, because they don’t keep their animals inside the yard," said neighbor Jessica Roberts.
But Roberts said there were no warning signs that the couple was sexually abusing children.
"You also think, like, was there something that I could have seen, was there something that I could have looked for to help alert authorities?” she said.
The victims' family member said he believes authorities knew about the abuse for far too long before stepping in.
"This should have been put to a stop a long time ago. To keep the kids in that kind of atmosphere, something should have been done," he said.
The couple was indicted Monday and taken into custody Wednesday.
"That means the world to, you know, to see them charges come down like they’ve come down. I just hate that it’s taken so long for it to happen," the relative added.
The Tennessee Department of Children's Services confirms it is investigating, but wouldn't say when the investigation began. The indictment doesn't specify either.