A Eureka Springs man who sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl will serve no time after reaching a plea agreement with Carroll County prosecutors.
Randy Ray Wells of Wall Street in Eureka Springs was arrested in June 2011 on charges of second-degree sexual assault, a Class B felony, and rape, a Class Y felony. He was accused of committing the crimes over a period of two years, beginning when the victim was 11 years old.
The victim knew her assailant, police said.
Wells pleaded no contest to the assault charge on Aug. 2, in exchange for the state's dropping the more serious charge of rape. He received a 20-year suspended sentence for the crime.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Devon Closser said the suspended sentence meant Wells will remain free as long as he does not violate certain conditions, which include that he have no contact with the victim or her family.
Closser said Wells would face jail time if he ever violated those conditions. Regardless, he will now have to register as a sex offender, she said.
Prosecutors agreed to the plea bargain after Wells' legal counsel made known their intention to cast doubt at the trial on the victim's sexual innocence and discredit her testimony, Closser said.
Prosecutors said they would have sought to keep the evidence from being admitted at trial, for fear that it might further traumatize the victim.
However, Closser noted that prosecutors were not guaranteed to win such a dispute. If they failed and the evidence were brought to trial, she said, it could have prejudiced the jury against the victim.
"Even under the best of circumstances, this was going to be a tough case," she said.
She noted that the only solid evidence in the case was the victim's own testimony.
According to court records, Wells failed a polygraph test on June 10, shortly before his arrest. However, Closser said this evidence was of no use at trial.
"Unfortunately," she said, "polygraph exams are not admissible in court."
Investigators had also found medical evidence that seemed to corroborate the victim's testimony. However, Closser said it was not foolproof.
Given the limited scope of substantial evidence, Closser said the trial would have amounted to a contest of "he-said-she-said," and the prosecution didn't want to risk seeing Wells walk free altogether.
Given the circumstances, she called the plea bargain a "huge win for the state."
Still, Closser said the decision had not been easy.
"Those are the calls that keep you up at night," she said.