Police said Wednesday that four people have accused a Little Rock doctor and church mentor of sexual assault.
James Nesmith, 53, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with one count of second-degree sexual assault, according to a police report.
Lt. Michael Ford, a Little Rock police spokesman, said Wednesday that a church pastor had reported allegations against Nesmith to the Child Abuse Hotline in 2015. According to Ford, the pastor reported that four people said they were sexually assaulted by Nesmith.
"It's an ongoing investigation and we are expecting, probably, more victims to come forward," Ford said at a news conference Wednesday.
Leslie Taylor, a UAMS spokesman, said Tuesday that Nesmith is an associate professor at UAMS and a physician at Arkansas Children's Hospital. She said Nesmith, who was hired in 1995, was involved in adolescent and sports medicine.
In May, Nesmith, at the request of Arkansas Children's Hospital, had been put on administrative leave with pay, according to Taylor. On Tuesday, Nesmith was placed on administrative leave without pay, she said. Taylor said it's the hospital's understanding that the criminal charge is not related to patients or patient care.
Court records show that the Rev. Tim Reed at Covenant Presbyterian Church reported in December 2015 that he had become aware of "allegations of sexual abuse against a mentor within their church." The affidavit said the minister reported the allegations to the Child Abuse Hotline.
According to an affidavit, Reed reported that "several teens within their congregation" had said Nesmith touched their genitals.
In June, a 26-year-old man spoke with authorities and said he met Nesmith when he was between 13 and 14 years old, according to the affidavit. The accuser said he met the doctor through Covenant Presbyterian Church at 1 Covenant Drive in Little Rock.
"He said Mr. Nesmith was a mentor through the church to groups and individual teenage boys, who would go on hikes and other activities, including going to Mr. Nesmith's house," according to the affidavit.
The man told police that participants in the activities often would skinny-dip while on the hikes "largely due to the fact that Mr. Nesmith always communicated that being naked was normal," the court documents said.
The accuser told authorities that one time, when he was 14 years old, Nesmith touched his genitalia while they were hiking, according to the affidavit. The man told police they were both naked, and that Nesmith grabbed his genitalia in passing and "stroked" it before letting go, the affidavit said.
According to the documents, the accuser reported that he and Nesmith would engage in "naked hugging," and there were "several occasions" where the Little Rock doctor had "fondled" himself while in the presence of the accuser.
"[The victim] said he quit going to Mr. Nesmith's house alone, because he felt uncomfortable due to the fact it seemed like Mr. Nesmith only wanted to be naked," according to the documents.
Nesmith declined comment when reached by phone Wednesday.
In a statement sent Wednesday, Arkansas Children's Hospital said the allegations do not involve the hospital, the hospital's patients or the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
"At Arkansas Children's, the safety of the children in our care is our number one priority. Dr. Nesmith has not been a member of the Active Medical Staff since May," according to the statement.
Metro on 10/19/2017
Print Headline: Police say 4 accusers claim abuse by doctor; LR pastor said to call hotline in 2015