Centerton Residents Shocked, Youth Ministry Volunteer Accused of Sexual Assault

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A youth ministry volunteer is accused of sexually assaulting a minor, according to a court affidavit.

Thirty-year-old Derek Smittle, of Centerton, was arrested for first degree sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl, by Bentonville police Monday night, January 14.

He is a youth ministry volunteer at First Baptist Centerton where police said their relationship started. 

According to the report, police received a call last week from a child abuse hotline. 

The mother of the victim said she trusted her daughter going to Smittle’s house to spend time with him and his family, since he was part of the church.

Centerton residents are in complete shock, they said they never expected something like this to happen in their own backyards.

“I still go to a church very close to it, I could have been going to that church, I could have been in the same class as them, so it’s crazy,” said former member of First Baptist Centerton, Sheyanna Watson.

“It’s really close to home, it’s right in our backyard and that’s the second story In the last few days that I’ve read about sexual assault with a minor and it’s just scary,” said Centerton local, Kristy Williams.

Pastor Joshua Babb from the First Baptist Centerton said Smittle has been relieved of his volunteer position. 

They are now reviewing their policies to make sure all members of the church are protected.

Smittle has been released on bond from the Benton County Jail.  

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