State Investigators Testified That Hensley Wrote 47 Prescriptions For Opioids And Other Controlled Substances For His Second Cousin, With Whom He Was Having A Sexual Relationship, Between 2011 And 2018.
Photo: Senator Joey Hensley (R) Hohenwald
Published May 20, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
State investigators just testified that Senator Joey Hensley (R) Hohenwald wrote 47 prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances for his second cousin, with whom he was having a sexual relationship, between 2011 and 2018.
After he admitted to prescribing controlled substances for a cousin last year, state Senator Joey Hensley of Hohenwald was put on probation.
Hensley has served in the General Assembly since 2003. He is on the Senate education and health committees and is a leader on the Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.
Beyond the legislature, Hensley runs a doctor’s office, The Hensley Clinic in Hohenwald.
Sex was the primary focus of the charges Hensley faced, so the prescriptions were not heavily discussed. According to Hensley, the sexual relationship only lasted for ten weeks, so only the prescriptions written in that time between December 2014 and March 2015 were considered unethical.
“We continued to be friends, but that was all,” Hensley stated under oath.
However, sworn statements from Hensley’s cousin tell a different story. She says their sexual relationship lasted for years instead of just months. Additionally, Hensley did later confirm that the two spent a night together in a hotel in Nashville in 2017.
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According to two of the three board members who ruled on the case, had the lengthier relationship been proven at the original hearing, Hensley would most likely have faced additional charged and stiffer penalties.
Drs. Neal Beckford and Stephen Loyd both state that the board would have most likely assigned a longer probationary period if they had known about a longer relationship that included more prescriptions. Both believe that Hensley’s statements should be re-examined by investigators.
“First, I don’t know of any precedent where this has happened, so I don’t know what the procedure would be,” Beckford said. “I don’t know what the board’s powers are in this kind of situation. And second…I don’t like to be lied to.”
The Tennessee Department of Health brought the initial charges and would be the entity responsible for investigating Hensley’s testimony again. Board members could reopen the case by filing a new complaint about the conflicting statements.
A former attorney for the TDOH spoke about the case on the condition of anonymity.
“Just lying to the board in itself is disciplinable,” the attorney said. “And in addition to that, the kind of deception we are talking about here also potentially shows a person is not accepting responsibility for the full breadth of their conduct.”
While Dr. Hensley is not commenting on the story, his attorney issued a statement saying that the cousin also provided conflicting statements about the full nature of their relationship.
Attorney David Steed said that “one should be reluctant to suggest Dr. Hensley was being untruthful.”
Steed also stated that being in a hotel with the cousin did not mean there was a sexual relationship.
“(Hensley) agreeing to share his hotel room with a lifelong friend from his small town who has to stay in a city alone before a stressful even the next morning does not mean that it was a sexual encounter,” Steed said.
It is considered unethical for physicians to write prescriptions for immediate family members or those with whom they are in romantic relationships. Hensley wrote prescriptions for his current wife, his mother, his brother, his children, and his cousin.
He was issued a $2,000 fine and had his medical license put on probation for three years.
According to Loyd, these allegations show a pattern of prescriptions that are not justifiable. Loyd feels that Hensley intentionally misled the board to limit the number of prescriptions they held him accountable for.
Loyd says board members were aware of the discrepancy in the timeline, but they were never given any explanation after they were dismissed so attorneys could debate this information. Without any further explanation, they were forced to make a decision on Hensley’s punishment.
“And I just feel like that decision was influenced by non-truth,” Loyd said.