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Charges filed against ex-music minister

BENTON, Ark. (BP)–The number of sexual indecency charges filed against a former Arkansas music minister has grown to 54.

David Kent Pierce, 56, had served First Baptist Church in Benton, Ark., for 29 years before he was arrested April 24 on one count of sexual indecency with a child. Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington announced the additional charges in a May 6 news conference.

The charges involve four boys who were about 15 years old when the abuse took place, Pennington said, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The claims of abuse against Pierce date back 15 years but the former music minister may not be prosecuted on the older complaints, Pennington added.

The alleged victim in the case that prompted Pierce’s arrest is a teenage boy in the church’s youth choir, but Pennington said the arrest prompted other alleged victims to come forward.

Upon learning of the allegations, the church immediately contacted a state police hotline to report the allegation and terminated Pierce, Dennis Byrd, chairman of the church’s personnel committee, told Baptist Press.

At the time, the congregation’s senior pastor, Rick Grant, released a statement to the media that read: “First Baptist Church has terminated the employment of David Pierce, our longtime music minister, as a result of serious moral failures on his part. The events for which he was terminated occurred several years ago, but left the church no alternative other than to dismiss him.

“This is a very sad day for me, for First Baptist Church, its staff and the congregation,” Grant added. “I’m heartsick over all of this. During my 20-plus years in the ministry here, this is the most difficult thing I’ve had to deal with, by far. This is a good church. We love the Lord. I can’t tell you how many people — church members here and others — have told us they are praying for us, both individually and as a church. We are praying for the church, for all families who may have been affected by this — and on some level that’s all of us — and we pray for David Pierce and his family.”

Pierce had no prior arrests. The child involved is a minor, so police are not releasing any details of the case. In an April 27 hearing, bond was set at $25,000. If convicted, Pierce could face up to six years in prison.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.

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