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Scantling v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

October 25, 2017

MATTHEW DEWAYNE SCANTLING APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04CR-00-992] HONORABLE ROBIN F. GREEN, JUDGE

          Matthews, Campbell, Rhoads, McClure & Thompson, P.A., by: Edwin N. McClure and Sarah L. Waddoups, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          WAYMOND M. BROWN, JUDGE.

         Appellant appeals from the circuit court's denial of his application to terminate his obligation to register as a sex offender. His sole argument on appeal is that the circuit court committed clear error because it failed to evaluate the statutory requirements to terminate registration and instead continued registration to punish appellant because it believed his original sentence was too light. We affirm.

         Appellant was charged by criminal information, filed on November 9, 2000, with violation of a minor in the first degree, a Class C felony. It was alleged that "[o]n or about July 1998 & March 2000, in Benton County, Arkansas, the defendant engaged in sexual intercourse and deviate sexual activity with A.R., who was less than eighteen (18) years of age, and the defendant was a teacher in A.R.'s school."

         On March 13, 2001, a plea agreement and order was entered showing that appellant had pled guilty as charged and sentencing him, under Act 346 of 1975, [1] to four years' probation and 120 days' incarceration in the county jail[2] as well as court costs and fees. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender. Appellant was released from jail on July 2, 2001.

         Appellant filed a petition for early termination and to seal his record on December 23, 2002.[3] On April 4, 2003, the circuit court entered an order granting early termination of appellant's probation and sealing the record of the offense. On March 8, 2004, appellant petitioned the court to terminate his "requirement for reporting." Following a hearing, the circuit court entered an order taking the petition under advisement and ordering him to submit a brief. Appellant submitted a brief in support of his petition to terminate his sex-offender-registration requirement and a petition to seal and expunge his record on June 23, 2004. The petition was denied on August 23, 2004.

         Appellant then filed a petition to terminate his sex-offender-registration requirement on April 31, 2016. Appellee responded on July 29, 2016, objecting to appellant's petition and noting that it was requesting that appellant be reassessed by the Sex Offender Community Notification Assessment Program, which had assessed appellant "almost fifteen years" prior to the petition and had listed him as a risk level of two.[4]

         A hearing on the matter was held on November 16, 2016. Appellant was the only witness. He testified, in pertinent part, that he was given a voice test and the report therefrom found no deception. He contacted the Logan County sheriff who provided a letter of reference supporting his application.[5] He stated that the "Booneville Police department had no objection if they needed to provide letters also."

         Appellant did not believe he posed any threat. He testified to the following regarding the effect of his actions:

The events of 16-17 years ago were devastating to me and my wife of 28 years. The ordeal that we had to go through was hard on me, but was even harder watching her go through it because she was innocent. She didn't do anything wrong. I put her through this; I put my children through this. I know people hear about jailhouse conversations or fake good or things like that. In my case that's just not absolutely the truth. My wife led me to a church that she was involved with and that became our life. Everything I do now is based on my faith in Christ.

         He went on to state that "back then, " he was a "heavy drinker" and that he "made a terrible, terrible choice and a lot of people suffered for it." With regard to the victim he stated that he "can't imagine the pain [he] caused [her] and her family at the time" and that "[w]hen he looked back on those events at the time, [he was] disgusted by what [he] did." He acknowledged that he did not blame his victim as it was "something [he] did." He went on to state:

At this time, I ask that the Court would take this registration requirement away. I don't think people that haven't been there can understand what the stigma is and how hard this is and what people call you and call your kids and the things that happen because of this. I've been doing it for 15 years, and it is hard. I acknowledge the reason for the registration based on what I had done, but I'm asking to be released from that as the statute permits.

         On cross-examination, appellant testified that he saw a psychiatrist in Fort Smith for over two years and remained a member of a "men's group for accountability for the majority of the last ten years"; he started that group in 2003 or 2004. He stated that the group had a mentoring component in which you "become a mentor yourself" and "[try] to help other men in these types of situations." He noted that he and his wife had ...


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