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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Van Buren Man Pleads Guilty to Five Counts of Interstate Transporation of Minors for Sexual Activity

            Fort Smith, Arkansas – Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Clarence C. Garretson, age 65, of Van Buren, Arkansas, appeared today in the United States District Court in Fort Smith before The Honorable Chief Judge P.K. Holmes, III and pleaded guilty to five counts of Interstate Transportation of a Minor with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a).

            According to court records, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated an investigation after a minor female (Minor #1) disclosed in May, 2016 that she had been raped by Garretson when he took her on a multi-state trip two years earlier.  Garretson was an over-the-road truck driver for C & T Trucking company in Van Buren and he had requested and received a “rider waiver” from the trucking company so that the minor could accompany him on the trip. The minor was ten-years-old in 2014 and Garretson was 63 years old. Garretson stipulated and agreed in the plea agreement that he transported the minor in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in sexual activity with her and the sexual activity he engaged in with her was Rape, a Class Y felony. 

            During the course of the investigation, it was learned that in 1998 Garretson and his wife were approved by Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) to operate a foster home and later to become an adoptive home.  The FBI Special Agent learned that DHS had received a report in 2002 from a foster child then living in the home that she had been sexually assaulted by Garretson.  Based on that information, the agent began locating individuals who had been in foster care at the Garretson residence.  Minor #2 was interviewed in June, 2016 and was a foster child in the home from 2000 to 2004.  She disclosed that Garretson had taken her on over-the-road truck trips when she was his foster child.  Garretson stipulated and agreed that he transported the minor in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in sexual activity with her, and that the sexual activity he engaged in with her was Violation of a Minor in the First Degree, a Class C felony.  At the time of the offense, she was over 13 years of age, and less than 18 and the conduct engaged in was sexual intercourse. Garretson stipulated and agreed that Minor #2 was a foster child in his care, custody, and control when he transported her in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in sexual activity with her.

            In 1999, DHS placed Minor #3 and his two older sisters in the Garretson home, and Minor #3 was legally adopted by them in 2001.  Minor #3 was interviewed by the FBI Special Agent in July, 2016 and disclosed that Garretson had taken him on long distance truck trips starting in the summer of 2001 when he was 11 years old and that he had sexually assaulted him on multiple trips during summer vacation from school in 2002 and 2003. Garretson stipulated and agreed that he transported the minor in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in sexual activity with him, that the sexual activity he engaged in with him was Rape, a Class Y felony.  Garretson stipulated and agreed that Minor #3 was in his care, custody and control when he transported him in interstate commerce with intent to engage in sexual activity with him.

            In 1999, DHS placed Minor #5 and her two siblings in the Garretson home and she remained there until 2004.  She was interviewed by the FBI Special Agent in July, 2016 and disclosed that she was sexually assaulted by Garretson on an over-the-road trip to California during the summer of 2000 when she was 13 years old.  Garretson stipulated and agreed that he transported Minor #5 in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in sexual activity with her, that the sexual activity he engaged in with her was Rape, a Class Y felony, and that Minor #5 was in his care, custody, and control when he transported her in interstate commerce with intent to engage in sexual activity with her.

            Minor #8 was born in 1993 and was interviewed by the FBI Special Agent in September, 2016.  She stated that Garretson transported her and her siblings between Arkansas and California as a favor to her family since their parents lived in different states.  She disclosed that in 2002 when she was 9 years old, Garretson had her sleep nude or partially nude in the bed with him inside the truck and engage in sexual activity with her.  Garretson stipulated and agreed that he transported Minor #8 in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in sexual activity with her, and that the sexual activity he engaged in with her was Rape, a Class Y felony.  He stipulated and agreed that Minor #8 was in his care, custody and control when he transported her in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in sexual activity with her. 

            Garretson was charged in a superseding indictment by a federal grand jury on October 4, 2016.  Sentencing will be held at a later date.

            The maximum penalty for count one of the superseding indictment is a maximum term of imprisonment for Life; a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for 10 years; a maximum fine of $250,000; both imprisonment and fine.  The maximum penalty for counts two, four, eight, and eleven are a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years per count; a maximum fine of $250,000 per count; both imprisonment and fine. The defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violations.

            "Today’s guilty plea sends a clear cut message to those who want to take advantage of our children. We will find you and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," stated Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge at the FBI in Little Rock. "Garretson’s actions are horrifying and the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office will work doggedly to put these predators behind bars. I commend the FBI personnel and the USAO in their efforts to bring justice to these young people."

            This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and assisted by the Van Buren Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorneys Kyra Jenner and Candace Taylor prosecuted the case for the United States.

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Related court documents may be found on the Public Access to Electronic Records website @ www.pacer.gov

 

Topic: 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated October 25, 2016