A Miller County judge declared a mistrial in a child sex abuse case shortly before noon Friday because the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
Jared Allen Harper, 35, remains charged with rape, second-degree sexual assault and indecency with a child for alleged misconduct with the daughter of a woman with whom he has two young sons. Harper did not take the stand during three days of testimony.
Harper’s attorneys, Jason Horton of Texarkana and Jeffrey Rosenzweig of Little Rock, argued that the girl, who is now 13, fabricated a “tangled web of stories” with the help of her older brother, who is now 17, because they wanted Harper out of their lives and they wanted to insure their mother would maintain custody of their two half brothers.
Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Black and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell argued that the girl was telling the truth despite pressure from her mother to make the charges go away. Black and Mitchell argued that recantations by the girl in a video recorded statement by a defense investigator and in a letter were coerced by the girl’s unsupportive mother. The girl testified that her mother told her she would lose financial support from Harper if he went to prison which would result in the family having to live in government housing where they could be “raped every night,” and that the girl was motivated to recant because she wanted the family’s life to return to normal.
Haltom scheduled the case for a hearing in September to address a new trial setting. Meanwhile Harper remains free on his current $50,000 bond.