The Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday affirmed the second-degree sexual assault and sexual indecency with a child convictions against a Drew County man who was sentenced to 24 years in prison for assaulting a 7-year-old girl on a pond levee.
Arthur Lee Newton Jr., 66, appealed the May 2011 convictions, arguing that the Drew County Circuit Court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict because there was no evidence that his actions on the pond levee were motivated by the desire for sexual gratification.
Newton admitted that he removed the girl’s underpants but claimed that he did so to ensure that she was not harmed as a result of an incident he witnessed prior to the trip to the pond.
Evidence presented at Newton’s Drew County Circuit Court trial indicated that Newton saw the girl and an older boy in a room with their clothing pulled down. He then took the girl to a pond levee where he claims he removed the child’s underpants to ensure that she had not been harmed. He said he may have touched her while helping her remove the underpants.
The child, who was 8 years old at the time she testified, told a different story. Using the vocabulary of an 8-year-old, she described an event in which Newton inappropriately touched her, exposed himself to her, and she touched him and he became sexually gratified.
“Here, the victim’s testimony was enough to support Newton’s convictions for both sexual indecency with a child and sexual assault in the second degree,” Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Waymon Brown wrote in Wednesday’s opinion.
“Newton argues that he only evaluated the victim to ensure she was not harmed as a result of what he had witnessed between her (and the boy) ,” Brown wrote. “The jury was presented with both the victim’s and Newton’s account of what took place and chose to believe the victim. Accordingly, we affirm.”
Newton also argued that the Drew County Circuit Court erred by overruling his objection to a question that he alleged had already been asked and answered.
During direct examination, the girl said she did not touch Newton’s “bad spot” and that she did not tell anyone that she touched it but when asked about her meeting with the prosecutor, she admitted it.
“She admitted that she told the prosecutor that she ‘touched (Newton’s) bad spot out by the pond’ and showed the prosecutor how she touched it,” Brown wrote. “Given the age of the victim and the nature of the charges we cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion in overruling Newton’s objection. Therefore , we affirm.”