Keenan Hord, a Southern Baptist youth minister from Arkansas, was arrested on Wednesday after being accused of sexually abusing up to 30 boys. Although prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges, the 32-year-old was arrested in connection with sexual assault, sexual indecency, and child pornography, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports.
Hord joined First Baptist Bentonville in 2016 and became a student pastor in 2018. In a statement to Baptist News, First Baptist Bentonville said the allegations came after Hord’s employment ended.
“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 stated in the 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.”
Hord also worked at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, from 2011 to 2016, first serving as an intern before becoming a student pastor of Bellevue’s Arlington, Tennessee, campus in 2014.
The Bentonville Police Department said it received a tip through the Arkansas State Police child abuse hotline on Aug. 19. Officers then searched Hord’s residence on Aug. 24 in order to seize electronic devices, according to Bentonville Detective James Boothman. Hord’s wife, according to Boothman, later told police that her husband hadn’t returned after leaving the house.
The suspect was taken into custody Wednesday after police learned that he was at Walmart in Fayetteville, Arkansas, buying a Tracfone.
Police said they have identified up to 30 children who were allegedly abused by Hord and they have spoken to six of the boys. Investigators also said they examined one boy’s cellphone and found more than 5,000 messages exchanged with Hord.
Hord’s phone included a video of a boy recorded in a restroom, police said. The 32-year-old remains jailed on a $500,000 bond.