Trial set for two people arrested in Jonesboro underage sex case - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Trial set for two people arrested in Jonesboro underage sex case

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(Source: Jonesboro Police Department) (Source: Jonesboro Police Department)
(Source: Jonesboro Police Department) (Source: Jonesboro Police Department)
(Source: Jonesboro Police Department) (Source: Jonesboro Police Department)
Briar K. Carrick (Source: Jonesboro Police Department) Briar K. Carrick (Source: Jonesboro Police Department)
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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The trial for two men arrested in an underage sex case has been set.

Kenneth Thompson and Benjamin Vardell were indicted by a federal grand jury in August. They're expected in court on September 16 to face a count of enticement of a minor to engage in sexual conduct.

20-year-old Briar Carrick of Tuckerman had his first court appearance in April. Carrick was arrested in Georgia earlier in April and extradited back to Craighead County.

According to JPD, he was charged with computer child pornography and given a $1500 bond.  He posted bail.

Carrick is was in court May 29.

Carrick was in school at Ft. Benning, Georgia where he was arrested without incident. He will be extradited back to Arkansas as soon as possible. 

On Tuesday April 9, eleven other men were arrested in connection to the mutli-county underage sex investigation involving a 12-year-old girl. 

Arrested were; 19-year-old Brent Crow of Paragould on charges of rape; 19-year-old Mark Carranza on charges of rape and computer child porn; 19-year-old Eric Emery of Rector on charges of computer child porn; 27-year-old Matthew Gifford of Brookland (Arrested in Feb) on charges of rape; 19-year-old Lukus Oden of Paragould on charges of rape, computer child porn; 21-year-old Kenneth Thompson of Bradford on rape and computer child porn; 18-year-old Benjamin Vardel on rape and computer child porn; and 19-year-old Kevin Dunhoo of Trumann on rape and computer child porn charges.

On April 10, Mark Carranza and Benjamin Vardel were issued $3,500 dollar bonds. Brent Crow, Eric Emery, Kevin Dunhoo, Lukus Oden and Kenneth Thompson were all issued a $4,000 bond. Police said their bonds were higher because they are not local residents. 

The arrests in the case stem from an investigation involving a missing juvenile in December 2012.  The investigation led officers to believe that the 12-year-old victim had been sexually active with men up to 27 years old. 

"The possibility for more arrests is out there," Waterworth said. "It's an ongoing investigation and at the speed at which information travels now and the availability for information to go from phone to phone," he said. 

A forensic examination of the victim's phone revealed 59,000 text and picture messages sent over the course of the investigation. Although four juveniles were arrested in the case, only the adults appeared before the judge today. 

"So far this has been the largest scale operation on an Internet crime that we have been involved with," Waterworth said. "It could expand and be larger, much, much larger as time goes by."

After being interviewed by the Craighead County Juvenile Office, as well as Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children, the victim told investigators she had been sexually active with men up to 27 years old.

The three-month investigation also led to four juveniles being arrested.

Waterworth said this is the first case of the magnitude that JPD has worked.

He said their concern falls to the victim. "We wanna make sure that she gets the help that she needs to make sure the family of the victim gets everything they need and to make sure that everything goes well for her," Waterworth said.

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