Region 8 viewers ask: Why did sex offender only serve four months?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The arrest of one local sex offender has created a local social media storm.

Jonesboro Police charged John Richardson, 35 of Jonesboro, with the rape of a one-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl.

Richardson was convicted of a similar crime in 2010 and spent four months in jail.

Viewers asked on Region 8 News' Facebook page: "Why did Richardson only serve four months?" Region 8 News investigated.

"The corroborating evidence was minimal to nonexistent in this case," 2nd Judicial Prosecutor Scott Ellington said.

Ellington said in 2010, Richardson admitted to touching a young girl, but there was very little proof.

"With rape, there is required penetration," Ellington said. "She really didn't have anything to say. A defendant's confession or statement cannot be admitted into court without some other corroborating evidence, and we just didn't have it in this case."

Ellington said because of a lack of evidence, a judge sentenced Richardson to four months in prison and gave him five year's probation. He was also required to register as a sex offender.

Now in 2014, Richardson faces new charges. Jonesboro Police accuse him of the rape of two young girls, including a one-year-old girl.

"When we charge someone here with something, we have a reason to do it," Sgt. Cassie Brandon with JPD said.

Sgt. Brandon is investigating this case.

"This is a first for me to deal with a case like this, but we do see it occasionally," Brandon said. "It's not an everyday thing. It's definitely a shock to all of us when something like that comes through."

Richardson was assessed as a level three sex offender, with four being the highest level recognized by the state.

"Level three and level four are those prone to re-offend," Ellington said.

"There's definitely that potential there for anybody to re-offend," Brandon said.

Richardson is currently listed as a "non-mappable offender" through the Arkansas Crime Information Center, making him more difficult for the public to find.

"In this given case, why he's listed as un-mapped, I don't know," Ellington said. "I haven't even delved into that. This is the first I've heard of it."

Wes Baxter with JPD said no registered sex offenders have re-offended in the past year.

Richardson's first court appearance on this latest charge will be in May.

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