No. 5 Crime Story of the Year: Wells pleads guilty to sexual assault, gets probation
EUREKA SPRINGS -- 2012 saw a number of high-profile sexual predator cases in Carroll County, among them a former school board member and police dispatcher pleading guilty this year to sexual assault of a child.
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 two-year period, beginning when the victim was 11 years old. She knew her assailant, said police.
Wells had served on the Eureka Springs School Board from 2006 to 2009, after which he lost a bid for reelection.
He worked for two years as a night dispatcher for the Eureka Springs Police Department but was fired upon the department learning he was accused of sexual abuse of a minor.
Wells was arrested and released on his recognizance.
In August this year Wells pleaded no contest to the sexual assault charge, in exchange for the state dropping the rape charge.
Prosecutors agreed to the plea bargain after Wells' defense made it known they would try to discredit the girl's testimony and her innocence and bring evidence to court to support it. Wells' failure at a polygraph test in June before his arrest would not have been admissible in court, and medical evidence supporting the victim's claims was insufficient to ensure winning the case.
Noting that the only solid evidence in the victim's favor was her own testimony, prosecutors feared further traumatizing the girl if the evidence were released.
"Even under the best of circumstances, this was going to be a tough case," said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Devon Closser.
She did call the plea bargain a "huge win for the state" in that Wells would not walk free altogether.
In October, Wells received a 20-year suspended sentence for the crime and will remain free as long as he does not violate certain conditions, including no contact with the victim or her family. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender.
Eureka Springs Police Chief Earl Hyatt confirmed recently that Wells, who still lives in town, did come in and register as a sex offender. As of press time, that information has not yet been updated on the Arkansas Crime Information Center's online sex offender registry.
The victim no longer lives in this area, Hyatt added.