Up to 30 victims of ex-youth minister in possible sex case, Benton County Court heard

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 behavior 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.

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

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

Bentonville Detective James Boothman said on August 24, police searched Hord’s residence 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 had purchased a Trak phone , 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 boys.

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 high. 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 a punishment.

The judge found there was probable cause to detain Hord on the charges.

Green also ordered Hord to surrender his passport to the Benton County Circuit 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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