A Conway man was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday after admitting he sexually assaulted a close family member in December 2012.
Frankie Paul Arnold III, 33, stood alongside his attorney, Jack T. Lassiter, and pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree sexual assault before Circuit Judge Charles “Ed” Clawson Jr. in Faulkner County Circuit Court.
A two-day trial was scheduled to begin next week. However, Arnold instead accepted a negotiated plea deal and was ultimately ordered to serve 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
Arnold’s family members attended the morning hearing and watched as Arnold admitted to sexually assaulting the victim, who was 14 years old at the time.
The victim sat before the court and talked about how the incident affected her and forced her “to grow up too fast.”
“I felt alone in the world,” she said. “That 14-year-old is gone … They call me a victim [but] I’m a survivor, a daughter. I’m not broken. I did this for other girls like me.”
Other family members were heavily impacted by the matter as well.
One of the victim’s family members talked about how the teen’s sister “was ridden with guilt for not protecting [her].”
The girl’s father said she was brave for taking a stand against her abuser.
Arnold was first questioned about the incident on Aug. 30, 2017. During the interview with Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office investigators, admitted he’d been drinking on the night in question and said “his memory that night was fuzzy.”
Records show that then 26-year-old Arnold made mixed alcoholic drinks for the victim and her sister on the night in question. The two were staying at Arnold’s home because the power at their grandmother’s house was out.
The victim “took a couple sips from a plastic cup and only remembers parts of the evening after that,” according to the affidavit. The following morning, she woke up wearing someone else’s pajama pants and a T-shirt, unaware of where the clothes had come from. The victim also reported that after going back to her grandmother’s home, she “became physically ill and began to vomit.”
The affidavit stated that the victim did not have any undergarments on and did not know where her clothes from the previous night were.
The victim recently confided with other family members regarding the incident and told authorities because she wanted to prevent Arnold from abusing anyone else.