Former Bentonville youth minister charged with sex crimes with multiple boys

BENTONVILLE — Police suspect a former youth minister may have had inappropriate contact with up to 30 boys, according to two Bentonville detectives.

Detectives testified Friday at a bail hearing for Keenan Hord.

Hord, 32, of Centerton was arrested on Wednesday for sexual assault, possession of a case describing sexually explicit conduct involving a child and sexual indecency with a minor. He worked for the First Baptist Church in Bentonville.

Prosecutors have not filed formal charges against him.

Hord has served on the staff of at least two Southern Baptist churches, most recently First Baptist Bentonville, where he joined the staff in 2016 and became a student pastor in 2018, according to Baptist Press, the press service of the Southern Baptist. Agreement. The church said in a statement Friday that the allegations came after Hord’s employment there ended, according to Baptist Press.

“We were devastated to learn that a former employee of our church has been credibly accused of abusing teenagers during his tenure at our church,” First Baptist Bentonville said in a statement to Baptist Press. “Although these accusations only came to light after his employment ended, when we learned of them, we immediately contacted our local authorities, reported to the child abuse hotline of Arkansas and continue to fully support law enforcement’s ongoing investigation.”

Hord also served on staff at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, from 2011 to 2016. He first served as an intern and then became a student pastor at the Bellevue campus in Arlington, Tennessee in 2014. according to Baptist Press.

Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green presided over Hord’s bail hearing on Friday. She set Hord’s bond at $500,000 in cash only.

Bentonville police received a report through the Arkansas State Police Hotline on Aug. 19, according to a press release from the Bentonville Police Department.

Bentonville Detective James Boothman said police searched Hord’s residence on August 24 for seizure of electronic devices. Boothman said Hord’s wife later informed police that her husband had left the residence and had not returned.

Police informed the US Marshals Service that Hord was missing, and he was taken into custody on Wednesday after police received a call that he was at Walmart in Fayetteville and purchased a Tracfone, Boothman said. .

Boothman said police spoke to six victims and identified up to 30 possible victims by examining Hord’s cellphone.

Bentonville Police Sgt. Josh Woodhams testified that he examined a cell phone belonging to one of the boys which revealed a romantic and sexual relationship between Hord and the boy. He said there were 5,000 phone conversations between Hord and the boy.

Woodhams said police located half a million text messages on the phone. As many as 30 boys had conversations with Hord, Woodhams said.

Several videos and images were on Hord’s phone; one was a video taken of a boy in a toilet cubicle, Woodhams said.

Woodhams said all communications and images involved juvenile males.

Joshua Robinson, assistant district attorney, asked that Hord’s bail be set at $500,000 in cash only.

Benton County District Attorney Nathan Smith urged the judge to follow the recommendation. He said there was a strong case against Hord and the likelihood of his conviction was strong. Smith said the only logical conclusion is that Hord was evading law enforcement when he left his home. Smith described Hord as a leak risk.

Ryan Jewell, Hord’s attorney, urged the judge to post a corporate bond for his client.

Jewell said his client had lived in the state for several years and had no criminal history. He told the judge that the purpose of bail is to ensure individuals show up in court and that bail should not be used as punishment.

The judge found there was probable cause to detain Hord on the charges. Hord must pay half a million dollars in cash to be released.

Green also ordered Hord to surrender his passport to the Benton County Clerk’s Office and not have contact with minors.

Hord’s arraignment is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 3 in Green’s courtroom.

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