Keenan Hord, a former Southern Baptist youth pastor and speaker in Arkansas, has been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to 13 counts of sexual assault involving six minors and additional counts involving child pornography. Kennan Hord’s guilty plea comes six months after he was arrested on August 24, 2022, and held on a $500,000 bond in the Benton County Jail. In a search warrant, investigators said at the time of his arrest they they found conversations on Hord’s cell phone with potential victims and that after finding photos on his computer, there could have been 30 more potential victims. As part of the sentencing, Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren also ordered Kennan Hord to register as a sex offender and not to have contact with any of the victims or any children.
According to media reports, Hord, age 33, joined First Baptist Church Bentonville in 2016 and became a student pastor in 2018. The Bentonville Police Department 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 later told police that her husband hadn’t returned after leaving the house.
When Hord was arrested, police said they identified up to 30 children who were allegedly abused by Hord, and they had already spoken to six of the boys. A detective told the Court that Hord had inappropriate contact with a 15-year-old, and investigators also said they examined one boy’s cellphone and found more than 5,000 messages exchanged with Hord. Police found a video of a boy recorded in a restroom on Hord’s phone. Hord was taken into custody after police learned that he was at Walmart in Fayetteville, Arkansas, buying a Tracfone. Hord remains jailed on a $500,000 bond.
A statement was released by First Baptist Church Bentonville, claiming he was no longer an employee.
“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.”
Kennan 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. He also was a speaker at youth events for numerous churches around the country, including a camp hosted by the FBC Texarkana Student Ministry.
Hord is just one of many authority figures to face charges this year for having inappropriate actions with a minor. This is every parent’s worst nightmare. Parents should feel confident that their children are safe with church officials and trust that their children will be cared for and protected from harm.
Horowitz Law has substantial experience representing victims of sexual abuse in the church. If you have been a victim of sexual misconduct by Keenan Hord or have any knowledge about such events at First Baptist Church in Bentonville, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or e-mail sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz today at [email protected]