PHOTO: Kent Hendricks, owner of CP&S of South Alabama, with former employee Arthur Westbrook outside the Williamson County Courthouse on Thursday, June 7. / Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
Two weeks ago, Franklin Police arrested Arthur Westbrook, charging him with two counts of indecent exposure after two women reported separate sexual incidents at Williamson Square.
But at his first court date Thursday afternoon at the Williamson County Courthouse, Westbrook said the police arrested the wrong man.
Kent Hendricks, who owns CP& S, the automobile detailing business Westbrook worked for, said he can prove Westbrook’s innocence.
In the first incident on April 9, police said a suspect matching Westbrook’s identification exposed himself to a woman shopping in a Williamson Square store on Murfreesboro Road around 5 p.m. He was then seen running away down Southwinds Boulevard.
On April 20, a man matching the same description revealed himself to a woman returning to her car from Hobby Lobby. The man was inside a red Ford Taurus, engaging in sexual activity with his pants down.
Hendricks pointed out Westbrook doesn’t own a vehicle, and instead drives his white van to and from jobs. Both men live in Alabama.
Additionally, Hendricks said he was with Westbrook the whole day when the second incident occurred, save for a grocery run to Kroger. He said several other employees also vouched for Westbrook’s whereabouts during both dates.
Police were called to where Westbrook was working, detailing cars at the Franklin Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on Murfreesboro Road, a month after the incidents, for a separate altercation between Westbrook and another employee.
After taking scans of his driver’s license, Hendricks said police returned the next day and arrested Westbrook.
Though he has not yet hired an attorney, Westbrook plans to fight the charge. Hendricks said there are seven witnesses he could call to Westbrook’s hearing, which will be held July 17 at 9 a.m.
As a result of the arrest, Hendricks said he has lost both his employee of five years (he had to fire Westbrook) and his account with Franklin Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, which brings his business $220,000 annually.
Though Westbrook admitted he has prior assault and domestic violence convictions, he maintains his innocence in this case.
“In my opinion, they’ve got their black guy,” Hendricks said. “And that he is a serial predator. . . I just can’t fathom that in this day and age you can accuse someone of that.”
“I’m innocent, I don’t know what else I could have said,” Westbrook said, adding, “I don’t think color has anything to do with it.”
Hendricks said he was dissatisfied after an interview with Franklin Police Sgt. Jack Morgan. He said Morgan seemed uninterested in pursuing his information in the investigation.
Morgan said what Hendricks presented him with was a timeline of events, but was insufficient as evidence. “No audit trail is being able to be presented. Both of those things are required. He didn’t offer to leave the stuff with us,” Morgan said.
Lieutenant Charles Warner, a spokesman with the Franklin Police, also verified that a witness had come forward claiming to have evidence of an alibi for the suspect, but had yet to bring forward the evidence.
Hendricks said records from his timekeeping system will ultimately prove the truth in court.
“My information absolutely trumps someone’s opinion on whether a driver’s license that’s four years old looks like the guy,” he said.