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story.lead_photo.caption Brian Lane Pond

TEXARKANA, Ark. — The rape conviction and maximum 40-year sentence assessed by a jury last year for a teen who molested an 8-year-old boy has been upheld by an Arkansas appellate court.

Brian Lane Pond, who goes by Lane, was 17 in the summer of 2017 when he began molesting the child he had befriended on bike rides and over fishing poles. The boy is related to an adult who lived in the same house with Pond on Old Post Road in rural Texarkana, Arkansas. Pond and the victim are not related.

Pond turned 18 in August 2017 and the abuse was reported to Miller County Sheriff's Office in September that year. Because Pond may have been 17 when some of the abuse occurred, the state agreed to a punishment range of 25 to 40 years rather than a sentence of 25 to 40 or life, the typical range for adults convicted of rape of a child under 14 in Arkansas.

On appeal, Pond, now 20, argued that Circuit Judge Brent Haltom shouldn't have allowed a forensic interviewer with the Texarkana Children's Advocacy Center to testify that Pond "groomed" the boy before he began touching him in a camper behind the house where the child lived.

Grooming is the process by which child molesters gain a victim's trust and gradually normalize sexually predatory behavior. In an opinion released Wednesday by the Arkansas Court of Appeals, testimony from the victim about the progression of his relationship is noted.

"We are not persuaded that the trial court acted improvidently, thoughtlessly, or without due consideration in overruling Pond's relevance objection; therefore, we find no abuse of discretion and affirm," the opinion states.

Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Potter Barrett, who serves Miller and Lafayette counties, praised the appellate court's decision.

"I am pleased that the Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction of Brian Lane Pond. Child sexual predators have no place in our society and this affirmation will insure that Mr. Pond remains in prison where he should be," Barrett said.

Pond is being held in the North Central Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction in Calico Rock, Arkansas. His parole eligibility date is listed on ADC's website as May 19, 2047. Upon release from prison, Pond will be required to register as a sex offender.

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