CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The chairperson of the Citizens Review Board has been arrested in Myrtle Beach, accused of sexually assaulting two girls over a 22-year span. Adults did not report the crimes, which police said is criminal and inexcusable.
Black also helped create the Genesis Project 1, an organization that helps families with services like counseling, and helps keep kids on the right track. The organization said Black did not have any interaction with clients there.
According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, 49-year-old Henry Thomas Black Jr. was charged with 25 charges, including statutory rape, statutory sex offense, indecent liberties with children, child abuse-sexual act and incest.
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On Sept. 3, one victim, who is now an adult, reported that she was sexually assaulted by Black. Detectives launched an investigation and identified a second victim, also an adult, who said she was also sexually assaulted by Black.
According to investigators, the sexual assaults began when the victims were children and continued over a 22-year span between 1996 and 2018.
At a CMPD news conference Thursday, Deputy Chief Gerald Smith said the survivors approached several adults over the 22 years about what Black was doing to them, but no one ever reported the alleged abuse to police.
Smith said the adults who were told had a duty to report the claims and failed to do so, which is both criminal and "inexcusable."
Detectives are now looking into those authority figures who they believe did not stand up for the girls.
Experts told Eyewitness News reporter Glenn Counts that when adults don't report crimes after they learn of abuse, survivors lose trust.
"All adults are responsible for the health and safety of all children," said Ann Glaser, who is with Pat’s Place.
The group helps investigators interview children who have experienced sexual or physical abuse.
"You are obligated, not only obligated, mandated to report," Glaser said.
In North Carolina, adults are legally required to contact the police if they suspect a child is being abused.
Failure to do so is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and the maximum penalty is four months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Glaser said a lot of people don't report abuse.
"It's very common for families, in particular, for families to decide they want to handle this on their own, not let things get out of the family or in religious communities, ‘We will handle it,’" Glaser said.
(WATCH BELOW: CMPD news briefing on Henry Black's arrest)
Smith said Friday it was the survivors' persistence and courage that led to Black's arrest.
"I consider it to be superhuman what they've done," he said of the two women.
Authorities arrested Black Thursday morning in Myrtle Beach, and CMPD detectives are working to have him extradited back to Mecklenburg County.
Channel 9 has learned that Black was immediately suspended from the Citizens Review Board following his arrest.
City ordinance 16-56 mandates if a member of the Citizens Review Board is charged with a felony, they are immediately suspended until disposition of the charge.
Black was still in the Horry County jail Friday.
Project Genesis 1
In his bio of the Project Genesis 1 website, Black has "over 19 years of experience working with youth and families in both community and residential settings."
"The investigation has not made any connections yet, but it is a potential," Smith said about Project Genesis 1.
The organization held a news conference late Thursday afternoon and it said that Black has not been involved with the center since 2008.
“I think CMPD is doing what they are supposed to do which is an adequate job in terms of the investigation,” said Garcia Nelson, who is with Project Genesis 1.
Nelson said they are worried about a hit to the center’s reputation.
“It is hurtful when you have built something and because of a relationship in the past, or because of a friendship, you can be tarnished,” Nelson said.
Police are asking anyone who may have been victimized by Black to call Detective O'Dell at 704-336-4466 or Crimestoppers at 704-334-1600.
Citizens Review Board responsibilities
A city spokesperson said criminal background checks are required for nominees of the Citizens Review Board, but there was nothing in Black’s check to disqualify him from serving.
The Citizens Review Board was established on June 9, 1997. The board reviews appeals by citizens who file complaints on dispositions imposed by the chief of police or his designee relating to allegations of misconduct against a sworn police officer.
The board also reviews evidence in officer-involved shootings to decide if officers handled the situation appropriately.
For years, there have been calls to give the board even more power, including by some city leaders.
Black was appointed chair of the board by the city manager in 2014. He was into his second three-year term as chair.
The chair is a volunteer position and receives no compensation.
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