Police allege UMass prof took sexual photos of child 

  • Northampton District Court STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/3/2021 5:07:41 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A University of Massachusetts professor who serves as the head of the chemical engineering department is on administrative leave as he faces three criminal counts of photographing sexual or intimate parts of a child later this month.

Michael Henson, 58, of 85 Cowls Road, Amherst, is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in Northampton District Court on Sept. 17, following an investigation by Williamsburg police that began last October when a juvenile reported that Henson took multiple photographs of her private parts over a period of seven to eight months, according to court documents.

“The investigation revealed that Henson did in fact secretly take photographs of the juvenile’s intimate parts around their clothing on at least three separate occasions,” the police report reads.

The juvenile told police that while she was using his phone to play video games, she saw as many as 50 photographs of herself in states of undress on Henson’s cellphone. She deleted the photos, then confronted Henson via text, asking him why he had taken the pictures, and saying that she “knew what he was doing.”

According to the police report, an “examination of Henson’s phone after obtaining a search warrant found that the phone had been wiped clean and reset to factory settings.”

With Henson facing charges, UMass has placed him on administrative leave, spokesman Edward Blaguszewski wrote in an email.

“Given that action, he is relieved of administrative, teaching, research and other responsibilities pending a review of the circumstances that led to the recent criminal complaint against him,” Blaguszewski wrote.

An out-of-office response from Henson’s email account states that he will have limited email access until Monday.

Henson, also the co-director of the Institute for Massachusetts Biofuels Research, was appointed department head for a 3½-year term effective Jan. 3, 2021, after serving as interim head for seven months. He has taught at UMass since 2002, after previously being a professor at Louisiana State University.

Hampshire County property records indicate that Henson previously owned a home in Williamsburg, selling that property in July.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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