The Justice Department announced that three former White River Juvenile Detention Center officers: Will Ray, 26, Thomas Farris, 47, and Jason Benton, 42, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a conspiracy to assault juvenile inmates.
The seven-count indictment charges that Ray, Farris, and Benton conspired to assault juvenile detainees, assaulted the detainees, and then tried to cover up their misconduct. The indictment charges that, in some instances, the defendants used pepper spray on juveniles and then, rather than decontaminating them, shut them in their cells to “let them cook.”
In addition to the conspiracy, Ray is charged in Count Two with participating in the Nov. 6, 2013, assault of a fourteen-year-old boy who had been lying asleep on his bunk. According to the indictment, Ray grabbed the boy from his bunk and held him so that another officer could spray the boy in the face with pepper spray.
Farris, in addition to the conspiracy, is charged in Count Three with assaulting a seventeen-year-old juvenile on Nov. 21, 2013, by pepper spraying him in the face.
Counts Four through Seven of the Indictment charged Benton with two assaults and with falsifying incident reports related to those assaults. According to the Indictment, on June 6, 2012, Benton assaulted a sixteen-year-old juvenile by grabbing, shoving, and choking him. The indictment also charges that, on May 19, 2013, Benton deployed pepper spray in the face of a fifteen-year-old juvenile. According to the indictment, none of the juveniles posed a physical threat to anyone nor physically resisted in any way at the time they were assaulted by the officers.
The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt.
This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Little Rock Division and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Peters of the Eastern District of Arkansas and Trial Attorney Samantha Trepel of the Civil Rights Division.