LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The man appointed to chair Arkansas’ parole board by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was fired from a local police department several years ago after lying to investigators about having sex with a minor, documents released by the department show.
Jamol Jones, who Sanders named the board’s chair last week, was fired from the Benton Police Department in 2018 for lying to investigators about whether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl, according to his personnel file released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents were first reported Thursday night by Little Rock television station KATV.
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Jones lied twice to criminal investigators looking into the relationship, and he initially told them he had only talked with the girl. Prosecutors didn’t pursue any charges against Jones, but he was fired for violating the department’s code of ethics by lying to investigators, the documents show.
According to the documents, Jones told an internal affairs investigator that he did not know the girl’s age but he acknowledged he “should have picked up on some clues” including Snapchat messages where she talked about going to classes all day.
A spokeswoman for Sanders did not say whether the governor or her office knew about the investigation into Jones before she appointed him, or whether Sanders believed he should still serve as parole board chair.
“Jamol bravely served our nation in the Army and protected his community as a police officer providing him with the experience and knowledge to serve on the Post-Prison Transfer Board and the Board of Corrections,” spokeswoman Alexa Henning said in an email.
Sanders last week said Jones’ “prior law enforcement experience makes him a clear choice to take on this important role.” His appointment chairing the seven-member panel expires Jan. 14, 2030.
Jones is an Army veteran who also served as a corporal assigned to patrol at training divisions at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Jones did not say whether he had discussed the investigation and his firing with the governor’s office before the appointment.
“I did not break any laws, no charges were filed, but I made a mistake I’ve asked God and my families forgiveness for, and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Jones said in an email. I am proud of my service to our country and our state, and the support of my wife and family.
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As parole board chairman, Jones also serves as a member of the state Board of Corrections. The revelations about his firing come as Sanders and the panel have been in an escalating fight over who controls the state’s prison system.
A state judge has blocked a law Sanders signed last year that took away the board’s ability to hire and fire the secretary of corrections. Following that ruling, the board fired Sanders’ appointee to the post.