Long time friend speaks about accusations against Maisenhelder

Source: C.A.S.T.
Source: C.A.S.T.
Source: New Hanover County Sheriff's Office
Source: New Hanover County Sheriff's Office

Reported by Lynda Figueredo - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - John Maisenhelder walked out of jail Wednesday night after posting bail.

A judge reduced the bond for the New Hanover County after school karate instructor accused of sex crimes with minors from $500,000 to $25,000.

61-year-old John David Maisenhelder must wear an ankle bracelet that will allow authorities to track his location.

Maisenhelder and his wife wouldn't talk about the case but long time friend Russell Dybvik said there are many questions that need to be answered.

"I feel bad for his wife," said Dybvik.  "It is one of those things you wonder what really happened.  I think everyone is wondering the same thing."

Maisenhelder is facing charges of indecent liberties with three different girls involved in the after school program, but many are having a hard time believing the allegations.

"He was a pastor for many years," said Dybvik.  "He's run the program for ten years with no problems at all.  Kids have gone through the program, and this is the first time anyone has given thought to anything other than what he seemed to be on the surface."

According to the District Attorney's office, more charges could be filed, as they suspect more children have been involved.  Connie Jordan with the DA's Office said four other potential victims have been identified and a total of 14 more children have been questioned.

Search warrants reveal that authorities began investigating Maisenhelder in April after receiving several complaints that he inappropriately touched at least six underage girls while they sat on his lap.

After hearing the allegations, detectives worked with a witness who covertly videotaped two underage girls sitting on Maisenhelder's lap while he fondled one for half an hour.

The warrants state he placed his fingers in their mouths, put his hands up their shirts and in their inner thigh area.

The video tape also revealed an employee of the business using a camera during the time of the incident, according to the search warrants.

Maisenhelder's attorney, Woody White, released the following statement after reviewing a portion of the tape:

Good afternoon.  My name is Woody White and I represent John Maisenhelder.  As you all know, John and his family are enduring a very difficult and humiliating experience, facing perhaps the most serious allegations one can face in our society.  Many times over the last few days they and I have wanted to comment on various news accounts on this case.  But North Carolina law correctly limits what attorneys can say at this point.  However, with the most recent news accounts pertaining to videotaped evidence and search warrants, the rules now permit me to make some comments.

First, I will say that, thankfully, we live in a free country where cases are ultimately heard and decided in rooms like this.  Our judicial system rightly protects -- and serves as a great equalizer of -- the rights both parties share in any given conflict.  As this case moves forward as all cases do, hopefully it will be concluded by reasonable people who follow the law.  Not by a mob, not by the press, not by the police alone.  We are fortunate, indeed, that it will NOT be decided by an editor at the newspaper, writing a headline he or she believes will sell the most papers on the street corners.

John, his family, friends, supporters and I have been gravely concerned over the one-sided news accounts of the evidence alleged to exist in this case.  As I stated yesterday, I have reviewed some of the videotape.  Its description in the search warrant is from the viewpoint of a Police Detective solely, and I fundamentally disagree with the Police officer over what it depicts.  Ultimately, it will not matter what I or the Police think about the videotape.  Our system, of Justice - rightly - leaves the ultimate decision to others who are not parties to this case.  Additional facts will undoubtedly be disclosed by the police, the DA, and us, as this case makes its way through the system.  I hope such disclosures will be limited to the court of law, and NOT the court of public opinion.  I know the DA, Mr. David - shares my concern and he told me so this morning.  I appreciate his comments very much.

It is fair to all parties for EVERYONE to please, please, withhold judgement on this man, his family and on the evidence of this case.  Fairness dictates no other course.

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