LITTLE ROCK — A Carlisle man relieved of Little League coaching duties this spring because he admitted to having sex with a minor in 2003 can return to the volunteer post next year if his misdemeanor convictions are expunged, the city’s parks director says.
Brian Wicklund, 37, has petitioned District Court Judge Robert Abney of Des Arc to expunge his convictions on two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of sexual assault in the fourth degree. A representative in Abney’s office said a hearing on the matter may be scheduled.
Prosecutor Chris Raff opposes the request, a deputy prosecutor said Tuesday.
Carlisle Parks Director Matt Fuller said Wicklund has been coaching in the city’s parks system for several years, “and he’s been coaching with me for the last three.“
Fuller, who became Carlisle’s city parks director in December, said he first learned about Wicklund’s criminal history last year while he was coaching Little League.
Fuller said the former parks director called him into his office and during a meeting with the chief of police and city attorney he was told that someone had complained that Wicklund was being allowed to help coach while having a criminal record.
“I met with him, because I was the head coach, I asked him to step down. Even though it’s not a felony and he’s not a sex offender, I still had him step down,” Fuller said.
He said he also discussed the matter with the boys on the team and their parents.
When the Little League season began this year, Fuller and Mayor Roy Glover said, Wicklund presented them with what they thought was documentation that the convictions had been expunged.
Fuller said he learned a few days later that document was actually a request for expungement, so he met with the city attorney.
“We thought it was best he stepped down until it was off his record,” Fuller said. “We told him that until [the expungement application] was signed, we couldn’t let him be in a position to coach.”
Carlisle City Attorney J. Michael Stuart did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Glover said he agreed with the way Fuller handled the situation and would have no problem with Wicklund coaching next year.
“If it’s expunged,” Glover said. “It has to be expunged.”
According to Des Arc District Court documents, Wicklund was arrested on Feb. 1, 2003, accused of providing two teenage girls with alcohol and having sex with one of them, who was 14. The other girl was 16. He was 27 at the time.
On Oct. 20, 2003, Wicklund pleaded guilty in Des Arc District Court to two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of sexual assault in the fourth degree. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, with 25 of them suspended, fined $250, ordered to pay $105 in court costs and ordered not to date anyone under 18 years of age for one year.
Wicklund filed a petition about a month ago in Des Arc District Court seeking to have the convictions expunged.
Up until last year, misdemeanor sexual assault in the fourth degree was not a crime eligible to be expunged under state law. That changed when the Legislature passed House Bill 1608, now Act 626 of 2011.
Along with sexual assault in the fourth degree, other misdemeanor convictions now eligible to be expunged include driving while intoxicated, negligent homicide, third-degree battery, indecent exposure, public sexual indecency and third-degree domestic battery.
Under the new law, expungements on the misdemeanor convictions can be requested after five years has elapsed since the completion of the imposed sentence.
Wicklund declined comment this week, referring questions to his attorney, Hubert Alexander of Jacksonville. Alexander did not return a call seeking comment.
On Tuesday, Deputy Prosecutor Keith Rhodes sent a letter to Abney, advising the district judge that Prosecutor Chris Raff opposes Wicklund’s request.
“I talked to Mr. Raff and we are going to oppose this petition,” Rhodes said. “I don’t know what the judge is going to do.”
Rhodes declined to say why the prosecutor’s office opposed Wicklund’s petition.
“That will all come out if we have a hearing on it,” he said.
Brad Cozart, administrator of the Arkansas Crime Information Center, said an expungement would not mean the convictions are erased.
“When you get a record sealed or expunged, it gets electronically sequestered in our system, and then generally does not return when they do an employment background check,” Cozart said.
He said state law does allow exceptions for some jobs, such as police officer, teacher or nursing home or day care worker.