Rape suspect pleads guilty to lesser charge
An Izard County man charged with rape and other sex offenses pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Dec. 8 as a part of a plea agreement in Cleburne County Circuit Court.
William "Les" Dennison, 42, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit rape. Judge John Dan Kemp sentenced Dennison to 10 years of probation and 300 hours of community service. Kemp also fined Dennison $10,000.
Dennison must also register as a sex offender.
Prosecutor Lona McClastlain said Dennison's charges were reduced in exchange for testimony against three other men accused in a Horseshoe Bend child sexual assault case.
"He will testify truthfully at the trials of the other defendants," McClastlain said.
Two of the defendants, William O'Brien of Horseshoe Bend and Derry Reed of Salem, have each been charged with two counts of rape and one count of sexual abuse in the first degree.
Reed has also been charged with one count of engaging children in explicit sexual performance, while O'Brien has an additional count of producing, directing or promoting a sexual performance for use in visual or print media.
The third defendant, Ken Clodfelter of Salem, has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit rape.
Reed, O'Brien and Clodfelter pleaded innocent to the charges last year.
Another man involved with the case, former Horseshoe Bend Recorder/treasurer Charles "Chuck" Simmons, was convicted in May of five counts of child rape and one count of producing, directing or promoting a sexual performance.
Judge Kemp sentenced Simmons to 210 years in state prison.
According to an affidavit released by the Izard County Clerk's office, the charges stem from allegations made by four underage boys from 1997 to 2000.
The boys allege that Simmons and his cohorts sexually assaulted and exploited them after they became inebriated at parties inside Simmons' Horseshoe Bend home.
Simmons was the legal guardian of one of his accusers.
Jason Wilbanks, another defendant in the case, was given a similar sentence to Dennison's after agreeing to testify at Simmons' trial.
McClastlain was assigned as the special prosecutor in the case in May of 2003 after 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Donald McSpadden recused himself from the case.
McSpadden said personal differences with the victims' families necessitated his removal from the case.