Sex Offender Wants To Preach In Local Jails

LONOKE COUNTY, AR — After Little Rock police arrested a sex offender — they say changed his identity to become a pastor — one local sheriff wants his county to be aware of sex offenders living nearby and what they’re doing in the community.

The Lonoke County’s sheriff says Shawn Folts — a level two sex offender — came into the department Wednesday to register.

The next day, he asked the sheriff if he could preach to inmates.

Sheriff John Staley says this raises a red flag for him.

But Folts says he’s doing nothing wrong and simply wants to help others.

Folts said, “For the record, this is the only minor I ever had sex with.”

Folts is opening up about his past.

As an 18-year-old in the 90’s he was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a 13 year old girl.

But Folts says a decade and a half behind bars — and the bible — changed his life.

He said, “I don’t excuse my actions of the past. I have been forgiven, the hardest thing to do was forgive myself.”

As part of his changed life, Folts began to minister to people and recently got his minister’s license.

Now, he wants to go inside jails and prisons to preach.

Folts said, “I’m reaching the jail ministry because I’m one of the few that will go in there, I’m not scared to go in there.”

Sheriff John Staley said, “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.”

Sheriff Staley says Folts preaching in his jail could become a safety issue, so it just won’t happen.

He said, “And jails and prisons sometimes bad stuff happens to folks who are offenders, who have offended against children.”

Sheriff Staley went on to say that sex offenders should never receive a minister’s license and right now he’s looking into what the law says about it.

He said, “You have access to too many children in that position, in my opinion.”

But Folts says his only focus is on helping adults behind bars because he feels it’s what he’s been called to do.

Folts said, “Do I ever want to look inside a cell again? No, but there are men in there that need help and there are women in there who need help.”

While Folts says his ministry focus is on jails and prisons, he does minister to individuals but says he’s always with someone else when he does.

The sheriff says he will look into this further just to make sure Folts is following all the rules/laws when it comes to getting his minister’s license.

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