Former Youth Pastor at Southern Baptist Churches in Arkansas and Tennessee Accused of Sexually Abusing at Least 30 Boys

Keenan Hord

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

The detectives testified Friday at a bond hearing for Keenan Hord.

Hord, 32, of Centerton was arrested Wednesday in connection with sexual assault, possessing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child and sexual indecency with a minor. He worked for First Baptist Church in Bentonville.

Prosecutors have not filed formal charges against him.

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

“We have been devastated to learn that a former employee of our church has been credibly accused of abusing adolescents during his tenure at our church,” First Baptist Bentonville said in a statement to Baptist Press. “While these accusations did not come to light until after his employment ended, when we learned of them we immediately contacted our local authorities, made a report to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline, and continue to fully support the ongoing law enforcement investigation.”

Hord also served on staff at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., from 2011-2016. He served first as an intern, then became student pastor of Bellevue’s Arlington, Tenn., campus in 2014, according to Baptist Press.

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

Bentonville police received a tip through the Arkansas State Police child abuse hotline Aug. 19, according to a press release from the Bentonville Police Department.

Bentonville detective James Boothman testified police searched Hord’s residence Aug. 24 to seize electronic devices. Boothman said Hord’s wife later notified police her husband had left the residence and had not returned.

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SOURCE: Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Tracy Neal

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