Judge rejects plea for probation, sends child molester to prison for crime against 7-year-old

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Willie E. Jackson

A 60-year-old Arkansas man and his attorney told a judge Friday that he’d been sober almost eight years, was working in his community to help others stay clean, had previously served his country in the military and was remorseful for his crime.

“He really is a valued community member,” appointed attorney Angela Keck said of Willie E. Jackson, of Little Rock.

That’s commendable, Douglas County District Court Judge James McCabria said, but not legally compelling enough to deviate from state sentencing guidelines for sex crimes against children.

McCabria ordered Jackson to 79 months, or about six and a half years, in prison. That’s the standard sentence for Jackson’s criminal history and conviction, aggravated indecent liberties with a child, a level-three felony.

“The harm is something that I don’t believe anybody can truly measure, but I don’t have any question that it exists,” McCabria said of how such crimes affect children.

Jackson molested the victim in 2013, when she was 7.

The girl told police that Jackson, a person she knew, touched her under her clothing while she was “sleeping.” According to an affidavit prepared by police, Jackson admitted that he touched the girl as she described.

Jackson was charged in July 2014 with one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, an off-grid felony. Under a plea agreement in July, prosecutors reduced the severity level of the crime.

Jackson had remained free on bond until Friday, when deputies took him into custody at the courthouse.

Keck had requested probation or at least a shorter prison sentence for Jackson.

She told the judge that in addition to his good conduct, Jackson had significant medical issues that would be a problem in prison. Those include having had a heart attack while his case was pending, taking multiple medications, severe back pain and recently having undergone neck surgery.

Keck also said harm to the victim in this case was “significantly less than typical,” saying that the girl was asleep when it happened and there was no penetration.

Prosecutor Alice Walker shot back. That’s still the exact type of harm that Kansas statutes and sentencing guidelines aim to protect children from, she said.

“There was touching … it was under the clothes,” Walker said. “If she was asleep or awake, the harm is still the same.”

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd