A former Arkansas youth pastor was taken into police custody in Bentonville on Wednesday, Aug. 24, for allegedly abusing up to 30 boys. Formal charges haven’t been filed against him by prosecutors yet, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Keenan Hord, 32, worked for two Southern Baptist churches, but his most recent employer was First Baptist Church in Bentonville. Law enforcement received a tip through the Arkansas State Police child abuse hotline on Aug. 19, prompting them to investigate further.
Bentonville police spoke with six victims and discovered Hord’s victim number was up to 30. They even searched one of the victim’s cell phones, revealing a romantic and sexual relationship between Hord and the boy. Five thousand phone conversations were discovered on the phone between Hord and the boy, along with half of a million text messages.
Police searched Hord’s residence on Aug. 24, seizing control of his electronic devices. The youth pastor’s cellphone contained several videos and images, with one video being taken of a boy in a bathroom stall, according to Bentonville police Sgt. Josh Woodhams.
According to Bentonville detective James Boothman, Hord’s wife told law enforcement that Hord left the house and didn’t return. With the help of the U.S. Marshals Service, Police located him at a Walmart, and he was said to have bought a burner phone. He was arrested in connection with his possession of things showing sexually explicit behavior with a child, sexual indecency with a minor, and sexual assault.
He is currently behind bars with a bond set to $500,000 cash.
First Baptist Bentonville released a statement on the matter.
“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,” the church 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.”
Before the arrest, Hord’s attorney, Ryan Jewell, claimed the former youth pastor doesn’t have a criminal history.