Local social worker accused of child sex abuse

Local social worker accused of child sex abuse

By Chris Teale (Photo/Alexandria Police Department)

Authorities have accused a former Alexandria social worker of sexually abusing a minor he had a supervisory relationship with during scheduled therapy sessions.

Gary Hankins was a licensed clinical social worker at the Alexandria office of Counseling and Forensic Services on Powhatan Street, where in April he allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with a boy under the age of 18, known only as “J.P.” in the indictment. Hankins is no longer listed on the company’s online staff list.

An Alexandria grand jury issued the six-count indictment Monday, accusing Hankins of twice exposing his genitalia to the boy, proposing that he fondle his genitalia on two occasions, proposing sexual intercourse once and two instances of sexual abuse.

The boy’s parents contacted Fairfax County Police in May after discovering suggestive text messages on his cell phone that appeared to have been sent by Hankins, listed only as “Gary” in the boy’s contacts list. They then turned the phone over to police.

The abuse allegedly took place during the boy’s scheduled therapy sessions, while at another session Hankins allegedly showed the boy a naked photo of himself on his tablet computer, according to a affidavit filed in Alexandria Circuit Court. Police requested to search and seize Hankins’ tablet and his Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, from which he is accused of sending the boy suggestive text messages. Investigators seized the phone on May 30.

According to the affidavit, one text found on the boy’s phone reads: “Does any guy that pays u attention of flirts with u make u excited & hard???” Another says: “Does it make you excited waiting to know? R u playing with urself?”

Each count of child sex abuse that Hankins is accused of is a class six felony in the Code of Virginia, punishable by up to five years in jail. Hankins turned himself in to authorities Tuesday.

Counseling and Forensic Services works with those who struggle with mental health and other problems. They also perform court-ordered evaluations and treatment, including juvenile and adult sex offenders. The company holds sex offender rehabilitation groups in many places across Virginia, and have a total of six offices including the one in Alexandria where Hankins worked.

Alexandria police led the investigation into Hankins over the course of several months, and police spokeswoman Crystal Nosal indicated that allegations like these are something that the department take “very seriously.”

The Counseling and Forensic Services office where Hankins formerly worked declined to comment on his indictment, while requests for comment from Dr. Stephanie Hardenburg, the owner and founder of the company, were not returned by press time.

Nosal urged any other victims to contact the Alexandria Police Department’s 24-hour non-emergency hotline at 703-746-4444.

A hearing date has not yet been scheduled for the case.