A 38-year-old Denver Women’s Correctional Facility officer was arrested this week after allegedly using his position to recruit and identify women he later tried pimping, Denver Police said Friday.
Joshua Hensley was arrested Wednesday on two counts of attempting pimping and patronizing a prostitute based on an investigation launched in April by the Denver Police Human Trafficking Unit, according to a release Friday from DPD.
At least two women were targeted by Hensley and at least one of the victims had been an inmate at the facility where Hensley worked, according to the arrest affidavit. Authorities believe there may be additional victims based on information discovered over the course of the investigation.
Hensley has been an employee at the Department of Corrections since 2012. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Annie Skinner said Hensley has been suspended without pay.
The investigation was launched in April after a woman arrested on unrelated charges told officers a man who worked at the facility named Hensley was pimping women, according to the arrest affidavit. The woman told police she initially performed a sex act with Hensley in exchange for money before he allegedly reached out and asked her to work for him. Hensley allegedly sent threatening messages to victims over texts.
The arrest affidavit said police found several text message exchanges from someone appearing to be Hensley attempting to arrange sex acts in exchange for money in metro Denver hotels. Police said Hensley was using a third-party texting app.
Police said during the course of the investigation they found Hensley had contacted “hundreds of other women with the same type of propositions,” leading investigators to believe there may be additional victims. According to the affidavit, phone records showed Hensley giving instructions on how to conduct prostitution deals and even how to post online advertisements.
Department of Corrections Executive Director Dean Williams thanked the police for their work on the case and said he’s looking forward to working together with the department. Williams called the arrest for this alleged behavior “shocking” in the release.
“What he has been arrested for certainly does not represent what our department stands for or how our honorable correctional staff conduct themselves,” Williams said, “We strongly encourage anyone to come forward to either our Inspector General’s Office or DPD if they have any additional information on this case.”
Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said in a release that the department is committed to holding those who “seek to profit by exploiting vulnerable members of our community” accountable.
“I commend the courageous witness who initiated this investigation and the tenacity of DPD Human Trafficking Unit investigators who continue striving for justice for victims in this case,” Pazen said.
Court records show Hensley was scheduled to appear in court on Friday afternoon.
Denver police are asking anyone who may have been victimized by Hensley to call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867 or to call the Department of Corrections’ tip line at 877-DOC-TIPS (362-8477).