More Arkansas lawmakers push for resignation of corrections board member named in Lord’s Ranch lawsuit

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – More Arkansas lawmakers are calling on a Board of Corrections member to resign over lawsuit allegations claiming he covered up sexual abuse of children.

Senate President Pro Tempore Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) released a letter on Monday publicly calling on board member Alonza Jiles to resign. Hester said this is the first time he has formally called on a board member to step down in his 11 years at the capitol.

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While Democratic lawmakers have not formally discussed the accusations, Senate Minority Leader Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville) said most in his party likely agree Jiles should no longer serve on the board following the claims against him.

“This is not in any way a partisan issue,” he said. “I find it hard to believe there would be any members who wouldn’t support Mr. Jiles stepping down.”

Leding said he was unaware of any allegations until recently, but Hester said he has known since the lawsuits started coming out in 2023. When asked why he waited until now to speak out on this, especially considering the board and republican lawmakers being at odds with each other in recent months, he pointed to the number of lawsuits that have continued coming out, even in 2024.

“We do live in a country where you’re innocent until proven guilty, but as the allegations have continued to come forward in the specific details, we saw this is something that has some real teeth to it,” he said.

Lawmaker calls for Arkansas Board of Corrections member’s resignation over Lord’s Ranch child sexual abuse lawsuit

Hester originally wrote the letter last week but waited until Monday to release it. He said he called Jiles the day he wrote it hoping to have a conversation with him and hear his response to the claims, but still has not heard back from him. He added that he waited until Monday to give Jiles time to defend himself.

Now, Hester said he wants to see someone replace Jiles on the board with a “clean slate.”

“If he [Jiles] turned a blind eye to real abuse to children, is he turning a blind eye today to abuse?” he asked. “I don’t know that, but the reality is because there’s a question mark there he should step down.”

Leding also said he believes these allegations, along with the allegations against former parole board member Jamol Jones, should serve as an example to the legislature and executive branch the need for a better vetting process for candidates.

Hester said the process currently requires a background check and noted that the allegations against Jiles came out after his appointment by former Gov. Mike Huckabee and even the second appointment by former Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Jiles has not replied to requests from KARK 4 News for comment over the last week, or any of the lawmaker’s calls for his resignation.

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Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe) also shared a statement in response to the allegations against Jiles.

“The allegations against Mr. Jiles are serious, and I am disappointed that he has not chosen to resign on his own,” Dismang said. “Decisions of enormous consequence are pending for the Department of Corrections, and those decisions must be made with the board’s full attention. “

If he doesn’t resign on his own, Hester said Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders could call him to step down “for cause” and the board of corrections would then have to unanimously approve that.

If that does not happen, the legislature could vote to impeach him with a 2/3 majority. Hester said he hopes to see either of the first two options but said lawmakers could act on this in the fiscal session in April if needed.

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