Allegations of sexual abuse at Faulkner County jail

By Matt Johnson

CONWAY - Harold Allen Smith, a candidate for Faulkner County Sheriff, is implicated in a 2007 report alleging repeated sexual abuse of a female inmate at the Faulkner County Detention Center.

Documents obtained by KATV under the Freedom of Information Act allege that Smith and another officer invited a female inmate into an office where her breasts were then fondled.

Joshua McCrary is the officer who physically touched the inmate. According to the document, he exchanged numbers with her afterwards. He was terminated after the investigation in 2007, but he was later allowed to resign. He is now working for the Plumerville Police Department.

Smith denies any involvement in the incident.

"He ain't accusing me of sexual assault, he's accusing someone else. He's just saying I witnessed it and didn't do anything about it," said Smith.

Smith, who retired before an internal investigator could question him, is campaigning for Faulkner County Sheriff because he would like to see better leadership and a change in culture at the Faulkner County Detention Center.

"The United States Marshall Service will only hold federal prisoners in a Faulkner County Detention Center only as a 'have-to' basis simply because of prisoner abuse," he said.

He says the federal government drastically reduced the number of inmates it would send to the Faulkner County Jail because of its poor reputation.

During Smith's four years working in the jail, he says food and medical quality were not up to standard for inmates.

Sheriff Karl Byrd denies prisoner abuse is a widespread problem and says there is no tolerance for that kind of behavior.

Byrd dealt with the alleged Smith/McCrary incident himself after learning of it three months into his tenure as sheriff in 2007. The alleged incidents took place during a previous administration.

He says no officers have been terminated or disciplined since the reported encounter with McCrary and Smith.

Smith now works as a private investigator in Conway after retiring in 2007 for health reasons.

The case is listed as closed but could be re-opened with criminal charges. Neither McCrary nor Smith faced any criminal charges because the alleged victim refused to testify in court.

A new investigation could bring charges of first degree sexual assault.

"Tell them to bring it on," said Smith. "I'm ready."