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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Arkansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

United States Attorney Asks Court To Dismiss Federal Child Enticement Indictments

LITTLE ROCK, AR Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, has filed motions with the appropriate district courts to dismiss the federal indictments against Kenneth Wayne Thompson, age 23, of Bradford, Arkansas; Benjamin Cade Vardell, age 20, of Jonesboro, Arkansas; and Lucas Aaron Oden, age 20, of Paragould, Arkansas. The Indictments charged each defendant with one count of using facilities and means of interstate commerce to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2422(b). Prior to filing the motions to dismiss, all three defendants pleaded guilty to sexual assault in the second degree and were sentenced in Craighead County, Arkansas, Circuit Court.

“When I was sworn in as United States Attorney, a friend sent me a copy of the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in United States v. Berger. In that opinion, Justice Sutherland writes:

The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor—indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.

I strive each day to live up to this ideal.” Thyer stated. “With that in mind, I do not believe that justice will be done in these cases by continuing these particular federal prosecutions. While I am firmly convinced that the defendants’ conduct was unlawful, I do not believe that a possible federal conviction and the ten-year mandatory minimum sentence that would accompany such a conviction would serve the ends of justice. For that reason, I have chosen to exercise my prosecutorial discretion and have directed my office to file motions to dismiss in each of these cases.” Thyer went on to say. “While neither I personally nor any member of my office took any position on the sentences received by these defendants in state court, I personally believe that they were appropriate based on the facts of the cases as I know them.” Thyer concluded.

Updated July 14, 2015