MICHAEL ZEHER Faulkner sheriff/Log Cabin Democrat

The Log Cabin Democrat in Conway reports that a rape charge filed in 2017 against a UCA student over sex with an incoherent woman was plea bargained to a reduced charge and probation under a first-offender statute.

Michael Zeher II, 19, of Bentonville, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and received three years probation under a first-offender statute. He was accused of forcing sex with the woman in her dorm room after a fraternity party.

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Prosecutor Luke Ferguson praised his handling of the case.

Given the circumstances surrounding this case, 20th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Luke Ferguson told the Log Cabin this was the best way to have the defendant admit guilty while being fair to all parties involved.

“Based on all the facts and circumstances of this case, I believe this outcome was fair and proper,” he said. We reached a resolution that provided some accountability for the defendant’s actions while also being respectful of the victim’s need for closure and privacy. We appreciate her full cooperation throughout this process.”

The article recounts events, based on an arrest warrant filed with the original rape charge:

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According to a probable cause affidavit, university police spoke with the victim and her friends at Bear Hall following the incident. One of the victim’s friends informed an officer that Michael “Mickey” Zeher had walked the victim back to Bear Hall after leaving the party, where they both lived separately, because “she was intoxicated and was not feeling well.”

Shortly after leaving the party at the Sigma Tau Gamma House, one of the victim’s friends said she received a Snapchat from Zeher’s roommate that stated Zeher was having sex with the victim.

The victim told responding officers Zeher had in fact forced himself inside her on the night in question.

While at the University of Central Arkansas Police Department, the then-18-year-old suspect admitted to the allegations against him.

Zeher consented to answering questions without an attorney present and admitted to having sexual intercourse with the victim for approximately five to ten minutes. He also said he understood the victim was incoherent during the alleged incident.

“He further told me that he took her clothes off, had sexual intercourse with her, ejaculated into a towel that was in his room, put [the victim’s] clothes back on, and then picked her up and put her back on his bed,” one officer wrote in his report. “I asked him why he had sex with [the victim] even though he knew it was wrong. He told me that it was because he had liked her for a long time and that he ‘had feelings for her.’”

The affidavit also said this:

Mr. Zeher also told me that [the victim] nodded her head “yes” when he asked her if she was ok with what they were doing. I asked Mr. Zeher if he thought that this was sufficient consent even though, by his own admission, [she] was incoherent at times. Mr. Zeher admitted to me that he did not think that the head nod was sufficient consent given by [her] to have sexual intercourse with her.

The prosecutor’s office is capable of being tougher. It won a 30-day jail sentence against a man who believed Sen. Jason Rapert had threatened him. Police and prosecutor decided the man filed a false report against Rapert and won conviction and jail time.

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