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Sex offender's registry lapses earn jail time, longer sentence

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A Garland County sex offender classified by state authorities as “sexually dangerous” for exposing himself to three schoolchildren in a Little Rock neighborhood has been ordered to spend a month in jail and had his sentence extended for failing to tell authorities for months where he was working.

Brandon Charles Runion, 38, was sentenced to one year in prison and a five-year suspended term in July 2016 after pleading guilty to three counts of sexual indecency with a child, one for each child. The conviction required him to register as a sex offender.

Runion, formerly of Benton, has been classified as a Level 4 offender, a finding that he is a “sexually dangerous person.” The designation requires him to keep law enforcement officials apprised of where he’s living, any vehicle he owns and where he works, among other disclosures.

In June 2017, Runion reported to Garland County sheriff’s deputies that he’d moved to Airport Road in Pearcy, court records show. Two months later, during an August 2017 residence inspection by sheriff’s deputies, the officers discovered that he had a car he had not reported to authorities, and they found out that he had not reported that he was working at a Central Avenue IHOP restaurant in Hot Springs, court records show.

Runion was advised to update his sex-offender registry at the sheriff’s office, but a month later, when he had not done so, deputies arrested him on a charge of failure to comply with registration and reporting requirements, a Class C felony that carries up to 10 years in prison.

He pleaded guilty to the charge in February in Garland County Circuit Court in exchange for a sentence of five years’ probation.

That same month, Pulaski County prosecutors had Runion arrested for violating the conditions of his suspended sentence. He pleaded guilty to the violation in April and was sentenced Monday to a month in jail and a second five-year suspended term by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Leon Johnson.

The new sentence has the effect of extending his initial suspended term from July 2021 until June 2023, court filings show.

Runion’s September 2012 arrest in Little Rock, after police saw him expose himself to a 14-year-old girl on Evergreen Drive, ended a monthlong investigation that focused on him. Five days earlier, detectives had secretly installed a tracking device on his Jeep.

Detectives had been tracking Runion that day as he drove the Jeep, which was missing its license plate, but they couldn’t get to him in time after he was seen flashing the girl.

Officers then followed Runion as he drove around Hillcrest schools — Holy Souls Elementary, Forest Heights Middle School and Pulaski Heights Elementary — ultimately taking him into custody at gunpoint in front of Mount St. Mary Academy on Kavanaugh. Police found a face mask and the Jeep’s license plate inside the vehicle.

Runion, who has a 2005 conviction for the attempted kidnapping of an 18-year-old high school senior at McCain Mall in North Little Rock, had come to the attention of Little Rock police just a couple of weeks before his arrest.

But investigators had been searching for a masked man flashing schoolchildren around the city since April 2012 after three girls and a boy, ages 11 through 13, reported a masked man with a Jeep and dressed in dark clothing had exposed himself and then chased them down an alley near Fletcher Library on Buchanan Street. Police reported at the time receiving numerous reports of a man in the area exposing himself to children.

In July 2012, police got a report of a masked man driving a Jeep at Park Plaza mall and collected surveillance video that showed the vehicle to be a blue 2002 Jeep Patriot with no license plate.

Later that month, police got reports of a masked man dressed in black who had followed some children home from the parking lot of the Hobby Lobby on West Markham Street. The man was driving a green Kia Soul with no license plate, according to a woman who told police she’d tried to follow the vehicle.

About a week after another report about the same man in the Kia around the Shackleford Crossing shopping center in August 2012, detectives began to focus on Runion when he was ticketed for not having license plates on the blue Hyundai Tiburon he was driving, a vehicle that police said matched the description of a car that had been seen following some school buses and children.

Detectives next discovered that Runion had been ticketed in a blue 2008 Jeep Patriot in June 2012, which led investigators to briefly keep watch on his Benton home, where they saw both the Jeep and the Kia Soul parked outside, a discovery that helped get them permission to put the tracker on the Jeep.

Metro on 06/14/2018

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