LITTLE ROCK — Three former employees of a juvenile detention center in Batesville have been indicted on charges of conspiring to assault inmates of the facility.
Will Ray, 26, Thomas Farris, 47, and Jason Benton, 42, former officers at the White River Juvenile Center, are named in the indictment, according to a news release from Patrick Harris, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
All three defendants are charged with conspiring to assault juvenile inmates. The indictment alleges that in some instances, the defendants used pepper spray on the juveniles and then, rather than decontaminating them, shut them in their cells to “let them cook.”
Ray also is charged with participating in the November 6, 2013, assault of a 14-year-old boy. The indictment alleges that Ray grabbed the boy from his bunk, where he has been sleeping, and held him so that another officer could spray the boy in the face with pepper spray.
Farris also is charged with assaulting a 17-year-old boy on Nov. 21, 2013, by pepper spraying him in the face.
The indictment also alleges that on June 6, 2012, Benton assaulted a 16-year-old boy by grabbing, shoving and choking him, and that on May 19, 2013, Benton assaulted a 15-year-old boy by pepper spraying him in the face. He also is charged with falsifying reports on both incidents.
According to the indictment, none of the juveniles posed a physical threat to anyone or physically resisted in any way at the times they were assaulted.
Two former White River Juvenile Detention Center supervisors, Capt. Peggy Kendrick, 43, and Lt. Dennis Fuller, 40, pleaded guilty April 26, 2016, in federal court to conspiring to assault juvenile inmates. Kendrick also pleaded guilty to assaulting a 16-year-old girl using pepper spray and to falsifying an incident report about that assault. They will be sentenced at a later date.
Conspiracy against rights and deprivation of rights under color of law both carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for falsification of records in federal investigations is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.