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Lonoke County Getting Tougher On Sex Offenders

Lonoke County Sheriff's Department is working on a new program to crack down on sex offenders.
LONOKE COUNTY, AR -- Lonoke County investigators arrest a level three sex offender after they say he worked on children's videos at a local church.

But the church's pastor says that's not exactly what happened.

Detectives say 32-year-old Shawn Whiteside was convicted of possessing child pornography in 2009.

As part of his punishment, he's not allowed around kids, computers or the internet.

And, detectives say he was doing all three at a Jacksonville church.

But, the pastor says far as he knows, Whiteside did nothing wrong.

The pastor of Jacksonville First Church of the Nazarene says Shawn Whiteside never worked directly with children.

Pastor Ron Riddle didn't want to do a formal interview, but told Fox 16 News he knew of the conviction, but that Whiteside went to church and was turning his life around.

Detectives with the Lonoke County Sheriff's Department paint a different picture.

Detective Keith Stiles said, "Part of his duties were the audio and video which required him to videotape the children at the church."
 
Detective Stiles says Whiteside also helped repair the church's computers, the same computers investigators say contained adult pornography.

Sheriff John Staley has a zero tolerance for sex offenders.

He said, "Because our kids are number one to me, I've got three little girls and I'm not going to play games."

On the sheriff's website you'll find a list of registered sex offenders in Lonoke County.

He's also working on a program where deputies will hand out flyers to neighbors living near sex offenders.

And, they'll visit churches, schools and day cares to better inform people.

Sheriff Staley said, "It's stranger danger. These are the strangers we're trying to teach your kids to stay away from. We need to let them know where they're at."

With dozens of high-risk sex offenders in the county, keeping them all in check is a never ending battle, but it's a battle the Lonoke County Sheriff's Department plans to make a top priority.

Whiteside is being held without bond at the Lonoke County Jail.

No trial date has been set yet.

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