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Saline Courier crime reporter Matt Burks puts together the top crime stories of the week.
Neighbors guilty of child sex crimes
A Saline County man pleaded guilty to child sex crimes on Monday and was sentenced to three years in prison. James Walker Neighbors, 39, of Benton had been arrested on June 21, 2011, after the Saline County Sheriff's Office Domestic Violence Division was notified by the Arkansas Crimes Against Children of a sexual relationship between Neighbors and a 16-year-old girl. According to the arrest report, the girl said the relationship began when she was 15. A search warrant for his residence was executed and evidence was seized, authorities noted. Neighbors, a former coach for the Bryant Softball Association, had been released from jail on a $10,000 sheriff's bond before appearing before Saline County Circuit Judge Gary Arnold on Monday. After Neighbors pleaded guilty to fourth-degree sexual assault and distributing or possessing of viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, Neighbors was sentenced to three years with the Arkansas Department of Correction, followed by four years of suspended imposition of sentence. Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Bush represented the state, and Attorney Lee Short represented Neighbors. Neighbors was taken into custody immediately following the proceeding.
Two Saline County men arrested for alleged rape
Two Saline County men were arrested recently for an alleged rape of a woman in a church parking lot, according to the Saline County Sheriff's Office. Cody Jeffcoat, 23, of Benton, and Joey L. Osborn, 24, of Bauxite each faces a charge of aggravated assault, rape, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, first-degree terroristic threatening and second-degree interference with emergency communication. Osborn also faces an additional charge of second-degree battery for injury of a police officer while in the performance of his duties. Lt. Mike Frost of the Sheriff's Office said Osborn injured a detective when he was taken into custody. As of press time, Jeffcoat and Osborn remain in the Saline County jail. Jeffcoat is being held on a $150,000 sheriff's bond and Osborn is being held on a $100,000 sheriff's bond. According to the Sheriff's Office report, early Jan. 6 deputies were dispatched to the 4100 block of Salt Creek Road where a woman was standing outside The Lighthouse Baptist Church screaming for help. The victim told deputies that she had ridden in a vehicle with Jeffcoat and Osborn to "go to the store," but on their way back to her home, around 1:30 a.m., the vehicle stopped in the church parking lot. The victim said that is when Jeffcoat and Osborn took turns raping her. She said that she tried to call 911 from her cell phone, but either Jeffcoat or Osborn took the cell phone and disconnected the call. When 911 dispatchers attempted to call the phone back, Osborn and Jeffcoat threw her out of the vehicle and drove away. The victim said it was around 5 a.m. when she was able to call 911 at a home next to the church. The report said the victim was treated at the scene by emergency crews and transported to the Saline Memorial Hospital Emergency Room for additional medical treatment. Frost said the investigation is continuing, and as of press time court dates for Jeffcoat and Osborn were not available.