A circuit judge on Friday upheld a district court judge’s 2018 guilty verdict in the case against Stephane Ferry after the Conway man filed a false police against Sen. Jason Rapert.
“He was guilty a year ago, and he was guilty again on Friday,” Rapert told the Log Cabin Democrat on Monday.
Stephane Ferry, 46, was found guilty on July 24, 2018, of filing a false police report against Rapert in January 2018 by District Judge David L. Reynolds.
Records show the Conway resident reported to Conway police on Jan. 24, 2018, that Sen. 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 the alleged incident.
On the day in question, Ferry called Rapert’s office seven times before Rapert returned his call.
Rapert testified before district court officials last year that he only returned Ferry’s multiple calls “through the desperation of our staff,” noting the then-45-year-old suspect was known to call Rapert’s office and send emails that were “threatening in nature.”
Previously, the Arkansas senator said he was not required to return Ferry’s calls because of the types of messages and perceived threats he’d received from the man through the years. Ferry moved to Conway shortly before the January 2018 incident occurred.
Ferry claimed Rapert threatened he would be “sending people” after him and went to the Conway Police Department about the matter. Both individuals had recorded the phone call in question. However, the recording Ferry had “cut off” prior to the alleged threats.
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, 2018, 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, adding that 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.
The false claims Ferry made to Conway police was followed his “clear-marked trail of harassment” against Rapert, which had gone on for years, the senator said.
Following a 2018 trial in district court, Ferry was sentenced to serve 180 days in the county jail, with 150 days suspended under the condition Ferry had absolutely no contact with Rapert personally or in his official capacity. Judge Reynolds had also ordered Ferry to pay a $1,000 fine; however, because the freelance journalist and photographer appealed the conviction, the sentence was put on hold until his appeal trial was held before Circuit Judge H.G. Foster on Friday.
Following the testimony at hand, Foster also found Ferry was at fault of filing a false police report against the Arkansas senator.
Following the appeal, Ferry was sentenced to serve 90 days in the Faulkner County Detention Center with 60 days suspended, giving him three months to serve the remaining 30 days. The $1,000 fine was again imposed against Ferry and the no contact order barring Ferry from communicating or attempting to reach out to Rapert was extended for another year.
Conway City Attorney Chuck Clawson said he was glad to see Ferry will be held accountable and was again sentenced to serve time behind bars for filing the false claim.
“I am very pleased with the verdict and the sentence,” Clawson told the Log Cabin. “Making false allegations against someone is a crime and should be punished. I hope the 30 days the defendant spends in the county jail is enough to dissuade him from similar conduct in the future.”
While the judicial process in this matter was lengthy due to the appeal, local officials said it was courageous for Rapert and his family to see this case through.
“I appreciate Sen. Rapert’s efforts in seeing this case to the end,” Clawson said. “I know it has been a long road for he and his family. In the end, it was the senator’s foresight to record the phone conversation with Mr. Ferry that made our case.”
Rapert said he believes Ferry had the specific intent of filing the false claim and that he was glad he recorded the conversation, noting that had he he not been able to provide law enforcement the recording of the entire conversation where Ferry alleged he was threatened, the senator could have faced a felony charge despite his innocence.
Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at email@example.com.