A Southern Baptist youth minister from Arkansas is accused of sexually abusing more than two dozen boys.
Keenan Hord, of Centerton, was arrested Wednesday in connection with investigations into sexual assault, sexual indecency and child pornography, although prosecutors have not formally charged the former youth minister who served at least two churches, reported the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
"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," said First Baptist Bentonville said in a statement. "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."
The 32-year-old Hord joined the staff of the Bentonville church in 2016 and became student pastor two years later, and the allegations reportedly came after his employment there ended. He also served on the staff at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, from 2011-2016.
Baptist News Global described Bellevue as "one of the Southern Baptist Convention’s flagship churches." The publication noted that "Bellevue is one of the SBC’s largest congregations, with an average Sunday attendance of about 8,000 people. Its former pastor was Adrian Rogers, a legendary figure among Southern Baptist conservatives."
A tip was called in Aug. 16 to the Arkansas State Police child abuse hotline, and Bentonville police executed a search warrant Aug. 24 to seize electronic devices, but Hord's wife told officers her husband had left the home and didn't return.
Police got a call reporting that he was at Walmart in Fayetteville and purchased a Tracfone, and he was taken into custody.
Investigators have spoken to six victims and identified up to 30 possible victims after examining Hord's cell phone, and an examination of one boy's cell phone revealed more than 5,000 messages revealing a romantic and sexual relationship.
They also found video of one boy recorded in a bathroom stall, police said.
"If you have any information regarding any criminal activity, please report it to the local police department," Bellevue said in a statement to parishioners." If you or your child were affected by this, we want to help you navigate this difficult situation with access to professional counselors at no expense to you."
Hord remains jailed on $500,000 bond.
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