Crime & Courts

Suspended Charlotte review board chair extradited on child sex crime charges

The suspended chairman of Charlotte’s Citizens Review Board remained in police custody on Friday on sex crime charges, jail records show.

Henry Black Jr. was arrested Sept. 12 on charges he sexually assaulted two young victims over 22 years, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police. He was first arrested in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and was extradited to Charlotte earlier this week.

The 49-year-old Black is charged with multiple counts of incest and indecent liberties with children, as well as statutory rape, statutory sex offense and two counts of child abuse/sexual act, jail records show.

Appearing on a video screen for his first Mecklenburg County court appearance Friday morning, Black shook his head as a judge read the charges police filed against him, Observer news partner WBTV reported on Twitter.

A young woman who identified herself in court as Black’s daughter said, according to WBTV’s David Hodges on Twitter: “My dad is not a bad man ... A lot of those charges are not true.”

At the time of Black’s arrest, CMPD Deputy Chief Gerald Smith told reporters that abuse began when the victims were “very young” and continued despite their repeatedly reporting it to other adults before eventually contacting police, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.

The Observer does not name victims of sexual assault and previously reported that CMPD officers have said Black’s charges of incest could cover a wide range of familial relationships.

“We’re talking about incest in a statutory manner, not what most people would think of,” Smith said. “It is a relationship based statute ... the statute says ‘this could be a relationship could be grandparent, grandchild, parent, child, stepchild, legally adopted child, brother or sister half or whole, aunt, uncle nephew or niece.’ That’s pretty broad.”

CMPD officers are looking for people who were told of the assaults but did not report it to authorities at the time, Smith told reporters earlier this month. He urged other victims to call police at 704-336-4466. Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Police said one victim, now an adult, reported on Sept. 3 that she was sexually assaulted and she named Black as her assailant. As police investigated, they identified a second victim, also now an adult.

The attacks began when the victims were children and continued between 1996 and 2018, police allege.

Suspended from board

Black has been on the Citizens Review Board since 2014. The review board hears appeals by citizens on CMPD disciplinary decisions after misconduct allegations against police officers.

Black is suspended from the Citizens Review Board at least until the criminal matter is resolved. Attorney Julian Wright, lawyer for the board, said the suspension started when Black was arrested.

Vice Chairperson Tonya Jameson has assumed responsibilities of the Citizens Review Board chair.

While on suspension, Black cannot participate in CRB meetings or vote on board business, Wright said.

People nominated to the Citizens Review Board undergo criminal background checks, the board’s website says. The Observer’s review of public records found Black has had no prior criminal convictions in North Carolina.

A city spokeswoman confirmed that nothing from Black’s background check disqualified him from serving on the board, the Observer previously reported. But a city ordinance says that members of the board who are charged with a felony, as Black was, are to be automatically suspended until the charge is resolved.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.