FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 23CR-16-133]
HONORABLE CHARLES E. CLAWSON, JR., JUDGE
Hancock Law Firm, by: Charles D. Hancock and Sharon Kiel, for
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Michael A. Hylden, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
LARRYD. VAUGHT, JUDGE
Frederic appeals the sentencing order entered by the Faulkner
County Circuit Court convicting him of conspiracy to commit
rape and sentencing him to thirty years' imprisonment.
Frederic argues there is insufficient evidence to support his
conviction. We affirm.
case began on the evening of February 14, 2016, when Chad
Meli of the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office, who is
trained to investigate cybercrimes against children, used an
undercover Kik account to answer an advertisement on Craigslist
entitled "Seeking dads and daughters" that was
posted on February 9, 2016. The ad read:
Seeking to talk with a dad who has a daughter interested in
mature gentlemen. We could begin by sharing our interests and
getting to know a little about each other and your daughter
and what her interests are . . . in men. Nothing too taboo to
share, no judgements[sic], you can kik me at cfcardinal.
I'm a father with a daughter also . . . .
Meli's online profile was that of a single
forty-two-year-old father named "T.J." who had a
thirteen-year-old daughter named "Kaci." Frederic
responded to "T.J." by asking if "Kaci"
was sexy and by saying that he (Frederic) had a
"hot" fifteen-year-old daughter whom he used to
"f**k." Frederic sent a picture of himself and
several pictures of a young girl (who was later identified as
Frederic's fifteen-year-old daughter) to "T.J."
Then "T.J." sent pictures of "Kaci" (an
adult female) to Frederic. "T.J." told Frederic
that "Kaci" played with him because he bought her
"s**t." The conversation between Frederic and
"T.J." continued and contained sexually graphic
language, including Frederic's repeating multiple times
that he would like to "f**k" "T.J.'s"
"sweet little thirteen-year-old" daughter.
"T.J." said that he was willing to make
"Kaci" available for Frederic's sexual
gratification. Frederic asked, "What would I have to buy
next day, Frederic and "T.J." chatted again, and
during this conversation, Frederic made arrangements to meet
"T.J." and "Kaci" around 4:30 p.m. at an
Exxon station in Mayflower, Arkansas. Frederic gave
"T.J." his phone number, said his name was
"Phil" and that he drove a dark blue Chevrolet
Ventura van. Frederic again asked "T.J." what he
should buy "Kaci." "T.J." responded that
she liked Michelob Ultra beer and glitter nail polish.
"T.J." also said that pink and purple were
"Kaci's" favorite colors.
meeting Officer Meli at the Exxon station as planned,
Frederic was arrested. In his van, officers found twelve
Michelob Ultra beers, pink and purple glitter nail polish,
and a hunting knife. Officer Meli testified that Frederic was
arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit rape based on
Officer Meli's online conversations with Frederic, along
with the facts that Frederic showed up at the planned meeting
location and brought with him the beer and nail polish.
also testified. He admitted that he was familiar with the
Craigslist ad to which "T.J." had responded; that
he had seen it; that the address on the ad was his; and that
he had posted a similar ad on Craigslist on February 9, 2016,
after chatting with someone else online named "Texas
Stepdad"; but he denied posting the advertisement. He
also admitted that he (1) engaged in the sexually explicit
conversations with "T.J."; (2) sent pictures of
himself and his daughter to "T.J."; (3) arranged a
meeting with "T.J." and "Kaci," who he
thought was thirteen years old; (4) showed up at the meeting
location as planned; and (5) brought the gifts for
"Kaci" that "T.J." had suggested.
Frederic testified that he did all these things for research.
He described in great length his academic interest in human
sexuality and that he wanted to learn whether he could
develop an online-research technique in this area. He stated
that his plan was to introduce himself online as a member of
whatever demographic he was studying-homosexual, pedophile,
transgender, transsexual-and immerse himself into the
dialogue of that demographic so that he could have "an
honest conversation" about people's different sexual
choices. He said that he had no intention of meeting with any
of the people he conversed with and had not met with any of
them until he arranged the meeting with "T.J." and
"Kaci." He testified that his true intent in
meeting with "T.J." was to have a conversation, get
a pizza, and drink some beers. Nevertheless, during his
testimony, Frederic conceded the wrongfulness of his conduct,
stating, "It was an active indiscretion" and
"I should not have been in that conversation."
jury convicted Frederic of conspiracy to commit rape and
sentenced him to thirty years in prison. This appeal
followed. Frederic's sole point on appeal is that the
circuit court erred in denying his timely motions for
directed verdict challenging the sufficiency of the evidence.
treat a motion for directed verdict as a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence. Moore v. State, 372
Ark. 579, 580, 279 S.W.3d 69, 71 (2008). Our supreme court
has repeatedly held that in reviewing a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence, we view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the State and consider only the
evidence that supports the verdict. Id., 279 S.W.3d
at 71. We affirm a conviction if substantial evidence exists
to support it. Id., 279 S.W.3d at 71. Substantial
evidence is that which is of sufficient force and character
that it will, with reasonable certainty, compel a conclusion
one way or the other, without resorting to speculation or
conjecture. Id. at 580-81, 279 S.W.3d at 71.
Circumstantial evidence may provide a basis to support a
conviction, but it must be consistent with the
defendant's guilt and inconsistent with any other
reasonable conclusion. Id., 279 S.W.3d at 71.
Whether the evidence excludes every other hypothesis is left
to the jury to decide. Id., 279 S.W.3d at 71-72. The
credibility of witnesses is an issue for the jury and not the
court. Id., 279 S.W.3d at 72. The trier of fact is
free to believe all or part of any witness's testimony
and may resolve questions of conflicting testimony and
inconsistent evidence. Id., 279 S.W.3d at 72.
person commits rape if he engages in sexual intercourse or
deviate sexual activity with another person who is less than
fourteen years of age. Ark. Code Ann. §
5-14-103(a)(3)(A) (Supp. 2017). "Deviate sexual
activity" means any act of sexual gratification
involving the penetration, however slight, of the labia
majora or anus of a person by any body member ...