HomeArkansas newsArkansas governor demands resignation of board member named in abuse lawsuit

Arkansas governor demands resignation of board member named in abuse lawsuit

Arkansas – Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders is taking a firm stance against Alonza Jiles, a member of the Arkansas Board of Corrections, following his implication in a lawsuit concerning alleged sexual abuse at The Lord’s Ranch, a youth facility that has since ceased operations. The governor’s call for Jiles’ resignation underscores the seriousness of the accusations and the administration’s commitment to maintaining integrity within its ranks.

Gov. Sanders described the allegations against Jiles as “concerning” and labeled his continued presence on the Board of Corrections as a significant distraction from its mission. “The accusations against Alonza Jiles are concerning and a distraction from his work and the work of the Board of Corrections,” she stated, highlighting the need for focus on enhancing community safety and reforming the prison system to prevent repeat offenses. The governor’s request was clear: for Jiles to step down and allow the state to concentrate on its corrective and safety agendas.

The controversy stems from a lawsuit that accuses Jiles, among other former employees of The Lord’s Ranch, of failing to intervene in abuse conducted by Emmett Presley, a lead counselor at the facility. Although Jiles is not accused of committing abuse himself, the lawsuit alleges he was aware of Presley’s actions and did not act to stop them. This distinction has not lessened the gravity of the situation or the governor’s resolve.

In response to the governor’s announcement, Jiles has vehemently denied the allegations, insisting on his innocence and lack of awareness regarding the abuse. “The allegations against me are false. I was not aware of, nor did I participate in any child abuse,” Jiles declared, defending his silence as counsel-advised and due to the pending legal actions.

The background of the case is deeply troubling, with the initial lawsuit filed in November 2023 detailing sexual abuse by Presley, who was responsible for the psychological treatment of children at The Lord’s Ranch. Using his position, Presley is accused of exploiting many patients. The lawsuit encompasses accusations against the facility, its former executive director Ted Suhl, Presley, and other staff members, including Jiles.

A second lawsuit in January 2024 brought forward eight men claiming to have suffered extensive abuse during their childhood at the Christian-based camp. With these additional claims, the total number of alleged victims has reached 16, painting a harrowing picture of systemic abuse.

Supporting the governor’s call, the legal team for the victims emphasized their agreement, pointing to the lawsuits that detail Jiles’ alleged knowledge and concealment of the abuse. Stephan D. Blandin of the Gillispie Law Firm criticized Jiles for neglecting his duties to the youth and to basic human decency. “Jiles fully ignored his responsibility as both a staff member of this residential youth facility and as a decent human being,” Blandin asserted, questioning Jiles’ suitability for any public service role.

Ethan Sullivan



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