Former volunteer youth pastor at Arkansas church sentenced for sexually assaulting teen

Derek L. Smittle, 31, of Centerton

BENTONVILLE -- A former volunteer youth minister was sentenced to probation and jail time after admitting to sexually assaulting a 17-year-old church member.

Derek L. Smittle, 31, of Centerton pleaded guilty Monday to sexual assault. His plea was under an agreement his attorney, Drew Miller, reached with Tyler Williams, deputy prosecutor.

Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green placed Smittle on 10 years probation and sentenced him to 119 days in the Benton County jail. He also must pay $1,670 in court costs.

He will be required to register as a sex offender.

Smittle was a volunteer at First Baptist Centerton, according to court documents. Bentonville police began the investigation Jan. 9 after they received a report from the Arkansas State Police's child abuse hotline, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The caller identified Smittle as a youth pastor and Sunday School teacher and said the girl attended the church and Smittle's ministry, according to the affidavit. The caller was concerned because of the position of trust and authority Smittle had at the church, according to the affidavit.

A clergy member at the church told J.C. Wiseman, a Bentonville police detective, that Smittle admitted he had a sexual affair with one of his students, according to the affidavit.

The girl told police that she and Smittle had been having a secret relationship for 15 months, but they didn't have sex until Oct. 11, 2018, according to the affidavit.