FORT SMITH (KFSM) – A Sebastian County public defender resigned Monday (March 21) after being accused of conspiracy to commit rape.
The Faulkner County Sheriff's Office arrested former Sebastian County public defender Daniel Stewart over the weekend during an online sex sting.
Gregg Parrish, the Executive Director of the Arkansas Public Defender Commission, and oversees the work of public defenders across the state. He met with Stewart Monday morning (March 21) at the Faulkner County Detention Center.
“I was there for one purpose, and that was to talk about his employment with the commission, and he immediately offered his resignation,” Parrish said. “He was very polite, and I accepted it and we departed.”
Court documents state a detective used an undercover profile to make contact with Stewart, who was searching for a "young guy" or "son."
The detective told Stewart he was a 42-year-old male with a 13-year-old son. Stewart said he was interested in sexual contact with both of them, according to the probable cause affidavit.
They agreed to meet at the Fort Smith Hampton Inn, where detectives and FBI special agents took him into custody near the check-in desk.
Without Stewart in the office, there are eight full time public defenders left with his case work.
“It could potentially delay cases, would could potentially delay the prosecutors work as well,” Parrish said.
The former public defender was working on about 140 active felony cases, including a murder case and a rape case.
Parrish is working on reassigning those cases.
"I’ll be looking at those tonight, specifically, to determine the nature, the degree, if that defendant is incarcerated,” Parrish said. “If staff here in this office will be able to accept any of those cases, or do I need to look outside the office to appoint private council?”
Stewart was the managing attorney and had worked in the office more than two years. Parrish said it is unclear right now how many cases Stewart was working on that involved sexual crimes, or how many people he may have defended in cases involving sexual crimes.