Kentucky Politician Arrested After Telling Joke In Grocery Store

HARLAN, Ky. (AP) -- Politicians are known for lame jokes. But when Otis "Bullman" Hensley tried a generations-old Appalachian jest on a woman and two girls at the grocery store, the family thought it was downright criminal.

Hensley, who earned notoriety for oddball antics as a longshot gubernatorial candidate, spent three days in jail in this eastern Kentucky coal town last week after being arrested over the wisecrack.

"Jay Leno makes jokes every night and makes millions," Hensley said in his thick Appalachian accent. "I make one joke and go to jail."

He could have faced as many as 10 years in prison, but a charge of attempted unlawful transaction with a minor was dismissed on Monday.

The ordeal began last week when Hensley's wife sent him to a local grocery store to buy ground beef. While there, Hensley encountered a woman with her two nieces, ages 11 and 13. "I offered to trade her a fattening hog for those girls," Hensley said. "I meant it as a joke. I've said it a million times. Most people get a kick out of it."

The woman didn't laugh. Instead, the family obtained a warrant for Hensley's arrest from the local prosecutor, claiming the comment was intended to entice the children into illegal sexual activity.

On Tuesday, the girls' father accepted an apology from Hensley and shook hands with him in a Harlan County courtroom. The man declined to discuss the case with reporters afterward.

Prosecutor J.D. Smith asked the judge to dismiss the charge, saying both sides want to put the matter behind them.

"He absolutely meant no harm," Smith said of Hensley. "It was a joke to him."

Appalachian scholar Loyal Jones said the jest Hensley made has been around for generations and actually is intended as a compliment.

"I've heard many variations of that," said Jones, retired director of Berea College's Appalachian Center. "You might hear 'That's a good looking boy; I'd trade you a pocket knife for him' ... Political correctness has ruined country humor."

In Kentucky, citizens can obtain arrest warrants simply by filing a complaint with local prosecutors. Defense attorney Karen Davenport said no investigation is necessary for police to make an arrest when the charge involves an alleged sexual offense.

In the Hensley case, Davenport said, the arrest was unwarranted because he had done nothing criminal.

In the last two gubernatorial campaigns, Hensley traveled the state with a giant Fiberglas bull on which he attached a sign proclaiming that, if elected, he would "chase the bull out of Frankfort." He received 3.3 percent of the vote in 2003, his best showing.

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  • by Obama 08 4 Prez! on Aug 28, 2008 at 11:59 PM
    ??? if I'm not mistaken, I didn't care what you said about Obama, I just thought it was funny you said he wasn't qualified for anything, then your following sentence you used the word "aint". I just asked you what were you qualified for using the word aint. Didn't have anything to do with Obama but all to do with your grammar. You could have been talking about a chicken, if you use the word "aint" it's wrong...sorry...for you!
  • by ??? Location: NC on Aug 28, 2008 at 12:21 PM
    To obama 08 for prez ; You sure did seem to care what I had to say about Obama on the other stories comments.
  • by Obama 08 4 Prez! on Aug 27, 2008 at 07:53 PM
    Why no Posted by: MW on Aug 27, 2008 at 07:24 AM, I'm very outspoken, I've never denied that. I didn't even know you had noticed my comments. There is a saying, I'm sure you've heard....the squeakiest wheel gets the most oil. But i think most bloggers find me offensive because I'm not a yes man or woman i should say. I have my own opinion and i don't have to say kudos to every blogger because i don't care what you or anyone else who blogs thinks of me. Lets say for instance this topic. Everyone thinks the woman over reacted. Maybe she was molested when she was young. Maybe where she came from they sold little girls. Or maybe she didn't want some dirty old man in her girl's faces. Just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should. But thank you MW for the question, and I hope I answered it to satisfy you. Have a great Thursday!
  • by HU? Location: Williamston on Aug 27, 2008 at 12:31 PM
    To Deborah from Onslow Co.--what does this topic have to do with the price of gas? Poor thing!! Are you any kend to the Aunt in this story? ha ha, now thats funny!
  • by T Location: Washignton on Aug 27, 2008 at 12:19 PM
  • by Pam Springston Location: Bertie County NC on Aug 27, 2008 at 07:00 AM
    That is one of the most outrageous things I have heard in a long time! It is unbelievable how litigious our society has become, such a harmless remark that a lot of southerners might make!
  • by Anonymous on Aug 27, 2008 at 06:32 AM
    absolutely ridiculous, lighten up you old hag!
  • by Dwayne Location: Greenville on Aug 27, 2008 at 06:22 AM
    What was the local prosecutor thinking?
  • by Cat Location: Goldsboro on Aug 27, 2008 at 05:56 AM
    An old farmer once joked with my mom about taking me in exchange for farm equipment.. at least i think it was a joke.. Anyway, I just took it as him goofing off a lil. You can usually tell if there is a reason to be concerned so Lighten up.

  • by Sarah Location: Fayetteville/Creswell, NC on Aug 27, 2008 at 04:37 AM
    ok, 1 word for this whole incident. STUPID.The mother obviously has no excitement in her life and thought she may get some thru this. CRAZY.
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