Up to 30 victims of ex-youth minister in sex case possible, Benton County court told

Judge sets bail at $500,000

Keenan Hord
Keenan Hord

BENTONVILLE -- Police suspect a former youth minister may have had inappropriate contact with up to 30 boys, according to two Bentonville detectives.

The detectives testified Friday at a bail hearing for Keenan Hord.

Hord, 32, of Centerton was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexual assault, possessing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child and sexual indecency with a minor. He worked for First Baptist Church in Bentonville.

Prosecutors have not filed formal charges against him.

Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green presided Friday over Hord's hearing. She set his bail at $500,000 cash only.

Bentonville police received a tip through the Arkansas State Police child abuse hotline on Aug. 19, according to a news release from the Bentonville Police Department.

Bentonville detective James Boothman testified that on Aug. 24, police searched Hord's residence to seize electronic devices. Boothman said Hord's wife later notified police that her husband had left the residence and had not returned.

Police notified the U.S. Marshals Service that Hord was missing, and he was taken into custody Wednesday after police received a call that he was at Walmart in Fayetteville and had purchased a Trak phone, Boothman said.

Boothman said police had spoken to six victims and identified up to 30 possible victims with an examination of Hord's cellphone.

Bentonville police Sgt. Josh Woodhams testified that he examined a cellphone belonging to one of the boys that revealed a romantic and sexual relationship between Hord and the boy. He said there were 5,000 conversations on the phone between Hord and the boy.

Woodhams said police located a half-million text messages on the phone. As many as 30 boys had conversations with Hord, Woodhams said.

Several videos and images were on Hord's phone; one was a video taken of a boy in a restroom stall, Woodhams said.

Woodhams said all the communications and images involved boys.

Joshua Robinson, deputy prosecutor, requested that Hord's bail be set at $500,000 cash only.

Nathan Smith, Benton County prosecuting attorney, urged the judge to follow the recommendation. He said there's a strong case against Hord and the likelihood of his conviction is strong. Smith said the only logical conclusion is that Hord was evading law enforcement when he left his home. Smith described Hord as a flight risk.

Ryan Jewell, Hord's attorney, urged the judge to set a corporate surety bond for his client.

Jewell said his client has lived in the state for several years and has no criminal history. He told the judge the purpose of bail is to make sure individuals show up in court and bail should not be used as a punishment.

The judge found there was probable cause to detain Hord on the charges.

Green also ordered Hord to turn over his passport to the Benton County circuit clerk's office and not to have contact with any minors.

Hord's arraignment is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 3 in Green's courtroom.