An appeal trial for a man previously found guilty of filing a false police report against Sen. Jason Rapert will be reset at the prosecution's request because two witnesses are unavailable Friday.
District Judge David L. Reynolds ruled on July 24 that Stephane G. Ferry was at fault of filing a false police report and ultimately sentenced the Conway man to serve 30 days in the county jail within 90 days. Ferry filed an appeal in circuit court in early August and was set to stand trial before Circuit Judge H.G. Foster today. However, city prosecutors filed a motion to postpone the trial "due to the unavailability of the alleged victim and the officer who took the lobby report."
While a new trial has not yet been scheduled, a pretrial hearing in the matter has been set for June 20, according to online records.
The matter was moved to June because witnesses are unavailable through mid-April and defense attorney, Jeffrey Rosenzweig, is unavailable until June 20, according to the scheduling order filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court on Thursday.
The case stems from a January 2017 phone conversation between Ferry and Senator Rapert. Following the phone call, Ferry reported to Conway police that Rapert threatened him over the phone. However, soon after Ferry’s claims to authorities, Rapert told city prosecutors he’d been harassed by Ferry for two years prior to this alleged incident.
In his complaint, Ferry accused Rapert of threatening to “send people after him.”
On the day in question, Ferry reportedly called Rapert’s office seven times before Rapert returned his call. Rapert testified in district court that he only returned Ferry’s call “through the desperation of [his] staff,” noting Ferry was known to constantly call his office and send emails that were “threatening in nature.”
Chris Murray, who represented Ferry throughout his criminal proceedings in district court, argued that it was Rapert’s duty to call the defendant, who is one of Rapert’s constituents.
Because of the types of messages and perceived threats he’d received from Ferry through the years, Rapert testified that he was not required to return Ferry’s many calls. When he did return Ferry’s calls on Jan. 24, 2017, he said Ferry never asked any "legitimate questions" and only harassed him in an attempt to get a sound bite to use against him.
The January phone conversation that was ultimately recorded by both parties is the same recorded conversation Ferry took to police in his claims against the Arkansas senator.
Rapert, according to Ferry’s testimony, reportedly threatened to send people after Ferry during the phone call. However, the recording Ferry took to police cuts out before the alleged threats were made.
After learning of the allegations against him, Rapert, who had the entire recording of the conversation in question, immediately provided authorities with the recording he took of the Jan. 24 conversation.
In the recording, Rapert says he will answer any legitimate questions Ferry had for him but that he would file a police report against Ferry if Ferry continued to harass him, noting he’d received several phone calls, voicemails and derogatory emails from the defendant over the years. Rapert also questioned if Ferry lived in the district, noting Ferry had previously sent him emails stating he was an out-of-state resident.
“I want to put you on notice that if you continue to harass and intimidate and send threatening messages to me via email, social media or contact my office, then I will file a police report with law enforcement and they can investigate this matter further,” Rapert said in the phone conversation with Ferry.
Ferry was ultimately found guilty in what deputy city attorney Charles Finkenbinder described as an issue that affected more than Rapert alone, noting the senator’s family also suffered from Ferry’s actions.
Ferry was sentenced to 180 days in the Faulkner County Detention Center and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
While he was sentenced to 180 days in the county jail, Reynolds suspended all but 30 of those under the condition Ferry has absolutely no contact with Rapert in his personal or official capacity as well as Rapert’s family members. By appealing the case, the trial process started over and Ferry has since pleaded not guilty in Faulkner County Circuit Court.
The matter was previously scheduled to be tried by a Faulkner County jury, but Ferry has since opted to have a bench trial.
Online records show that Rosenzweig filed a waiver of jury trial notice on Ferry's behalf on Feb. 21, stating the defendant "agrees that this case may be heard by the Court sitting without a jury."