A Northwest Arkansas pastor is accused of sexually assaulting a Bentonville girl who attended the church where he volunteers, authorities said Tuesday.
Derek Smittle, 30, of Centerton faces a first-degree felony sexual assault charge following his arrest Monday. Smittle is accused of having sexual relations with a Bentonville girl who attends the church, according to a Bentonville Police Department statement.
First Baptist Centerton said Tuesday that it terminated Smittle’s volunteer position, adding that church officials are reviewing policies to safeguard minors at events it hosts.
“As a church that endeavors to follow the highest standard of morality outlined by the Bible, we recognize the seriousness of immoral sexual behavior,” a statement by the church read.
First-degree sexual assault charges carry a maximum 30-year sentence in Arkansas.
Smittle is free on bond, police said.