Prison-sex confession stands

A prison psychologist given a three-year sentence for having sex with an inmate patient will go to prison after the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld her conviction Thursday.

Anna Clark, now 57, was convicted of third-degree sexual assault for her dalliance with Dan Burns, an inmate under her care.

Clark argued on appeal that her confession to an Arkansas State Police investigator about her sex with Burns was based on false promises.

Clark said the investigator told her he would keep the matter out of the press, keep her out of jail and even hoped that she’d retain her psychology license.

But Justice Annabelle Clinton Imber, writing for the court, said Clark had waived her Miranda rights and knew that having sex with an inmate was a crime.

“In viewing the totality of the circumstances, we conclude that [Clark ] ’s confession was voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently given,” Imber wrote.

Clark also contended that because the investigator didn’t tape the first 75 minutes of the interview, he violated the due-process clause in Article 2, Section 8 of the Arkansas Constitution.

No Arkansas law requires the police to record an interrogation in its entirety, Imber wrote.

But, Imber wrote, “we believe that the criminal-justice system will be better served if our supervisory authority is brought to bear on this issue” and announced the court will refer the “practicability” of adopting a formal rule on electronic recordings to its Committee on Criminal Practice for study.

But even if the court had a rule on taping confessions “any resulting error would be harmless in light of otherwise overwhelming evidence of [Clark ] ’s guilt,” Imber wrote.

A correctional officer walked in on Clark and Burns having sex, and Burns admitted to the relationship, the judge wrote.

Clark has been free on an appeals bond since her August 2007 sentencing, according to Department of Correction records, said prison spokesman George Brewer.

Her time out on bond won’t count toward her sentence, he said.

At the Supreme Court, the case is CR 07-1276, Anna Clark v. State of Arkansas.