Governor signs bill banning marriage under 17
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed legislation that increases the state’s marriage age to 17.
Under the previous law, 16-year-old girls and 17-yearold boys could get married with the consent of their parents. If the girl was pregnant, a judge could approve a marriage regardless of her age.
The legislation signed Wednesday raises the marriage age to 17 regardless of circumstances, and parental consent is still required if either party is under the age of 18.
Democratic Rep. Vivian Flowers of Pine Bluff sponsored the bill. She says Department of Health statistics show that more than 8,200 girls and 1,300 boys who were 17 or younger have been married in Arkansas since 1999.
Last year, Delaware became the first state in the U.S. to ban marriage for anyone under 18.
FORREST CITY — The drug task force initiative, called Operation Kandy Krush, targets child sex predators in the six counties in Arkansas’ First Judicial District: Cross, Lee, Monroe, Phillips, St. Francis and Woodruff.
“Our agency has taken the lead to diversify and protect our children using the special investigatory skills of our agents,” a Drug Task Force agent said. “As long as the DTF exists, our agents will continue to be at the tip of the spear protecting our communities from child predators.”
The first man arrested, 36-year-old Garland Williams, AKA “TuTu,” of Forrest City, was arrested April 14 and charged with internet stalking of a child. His bond was set at $100,000, and he was released on bond that same evening.
Williams allegedly sent photos of his genitals to a person who he thought was a 15-year-old girl. Williams asked the girl to send him sexually graphic photos of herself and offered to pay for a hotel room with an intent to have sex with the child, according to a release from the First Judicial District Drug Task Force.
Williams was arrested and admitted to officers that he sent the explicit photos.
The second man arrested was Jerry Reyes, AKA “Jay” or “JR,” 34, of Forrest City.
He was arrested April 15 after he sent pornographic videos, discussed sex acts and talked about meeting for sex with who he thought was a 15-year-old girl.
“If I knew u were like real n not the feds we could,” Reyes messaged the girl.
Reyes clarified, “But between everyone else we couldn’t do nothing till u were 18 years old. Legally speaking.”
Reyes was arrested and charged with internet stalking of a child. He told officers he is a Latin Kings gang member. He will be in St. Francis County District Court at 1 p.m. Wednesday for his first court appearance.
Dustin Spencer Clowers, AKA “Richard Dangle,” 35, of Harrisburg, was arrested on April 16 on a charge of internet stalking of child.
He was arrested after he sent sexually graphic photos of his genitals and asked for sexually explicit photos in return from a person who he thought was a 15-year-old girl.
Clowers had outstanding felony warrants in Poinsett County at the time of his arrest for failure to appear on battery and drug possession charges and a probation revocation. He was also trespassing and living in a trailer without the owner’s knowledge at the time of his arrest.
Clowers is being held in Poinsett County Jail, and more charges are expected to be filed there.
Missing Northwest Arkansas girl found safe
SPRINGDALE — The Springdale Police Department reports that they have located a missing child. Arkansas State Police reported Kella Jeban, 9, missing Friday. She failed to return home from school.
Police say the girl was found safe Saturday morning. No details about her recovery were released.