Fouke man, 78, receives 36 years for molesting teen boys

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A 78-year-old Fouke, Ark., man received a 36-year prison sentence Tuesday in connection with the sexual abuse of two teen boys in 2016 and 2017.

Kenneth Wayne Richards was scheduled to go on trial Tuesday. As a large group of prospective jurors gathered in the hallway of the second floor of the Miller County courthouse for jury duty, Richards stood before Circuit Judge Carlton Jones in a courtroom on the same floor.

Richards appeared with Texarkana lawyer Joe Tyler and told Jones he has no complaints regarding Tyler’s management of the case. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kristian Robertson told the judge that she and Tyler had reached a plea agreement which includes Richards’ plea of guilty to nine felony crimes involving the sexual abuse of two boys, ages 14 and 16, in 2016 and 2017.

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The boys reported in 2017 that Richards began behaving inappropriately with them while they were performing some work for him. The victims reported that Richards gave them tobacco and alcohol and showed them pornographic films at his home on Attaway Ave. in Fouke, Ark. The victims were sexually molested by Richards multiple times.

Richards pleaded guilty to one count of fourth-degree sexual assault, six counts of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of sexual indecency with a child. As part of his plea agreement, three additional felony counts were dismissed at sentencing.

Richards received six-year, 20-year and 16-year sentences on the various charges. Most of the terms were ordered to run concurrently but one 16-year term was ordered to run consecutively to a 20-year term so that Richards was sentenced to 36 years in total. If Richards is released from prison, he must register as a sex offender.

Richards did not make a statement at the hearing beyond answering standard questions from the court and entering nine separate pleas of guilty. Richards was arrested Nov. 9, 2017, and released on a $75,000 bond Nov. 13, 2017, with the conditions that he remain on house arrest, wear a GPS leg monitor and have no contact with the victims.

Richards walked with a cane as he was escorted from the courtroom Tuesday to the Miller County jail where he will be housed until he is transported to the Arkansas Department of Correction.

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