BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Gravette sober living facility pastor was arrested for sexual assault after he allegedly used his position of authority to take advantage of a resident.
Thomas Hartman, 53, was arrested on January 20 and booked into the Benton County jail on a $150,000 bond. He is facing charges of third degree sexual assault as well as a weapons charge in Benton County circuit court. Investigators executed a search warrant at Hartman’s residence in Gravette at approximately 6 a.m. that day.
According to a press release from Benton County Sheriff’s Office, the warrant was issued based on information that was received by the sheriff’s office narcotics division of illegal drugs and firearms. In total, six men were arrested.
An address adjacent to Hartman’s residence is known as “Wings of Peace NWA,” according to court documents. A currently-defunct Facebook page described that facility as a “faith based sober/transitional living facility to meet the rising need to restore men who are emotionally broken and spiritually lost and who are seeking to change the direction of their life.”
According to a police report, the Wings of Peace NWA website formerly listed Hartman and his wife as the founders of the ministry, which includes “a dwelling that can house 12-16 men.” That website now states that “Wings of Peace is no longer providing any sober living services.”
During the execution of the warrant, police interviewed a 23-year-old man who said that he met Hartman “about four or five years ago” and added that he was living there for free. That man said he felt trapped by Hartman and that Hartman took advantage of him because he “knew nobody else cared about him” and he had nowhere else to go.
After describing unwanted sexual encounters with Harmtan, Patton told police that he “just wanted to get away.” He also said that Hartman had bonded him out of jail and that he feared going back if he said anything.
When police interviewed Hartman, he confirmed the sexual activity and said that “he thought it was consensual.” He added that the events all happened in the past six months, beginning in August or September, 2022.
Hartman told police that he “never pushed [the man] to do anything” and that he felt like the sexual relationship was “a slip-up on his part” because “he was trying not to live that gay lifestyle anymore and devote his life to the ministry.”
Hartman added that he had never had a sexual relationship with any other men at the house or bonded any of them out of jail.
The Arkansas statute pertaining to third degree sexual assault states that the law applies if a person in the clergy or in a position of trust or authority uses that trust to have sexual intercourse with a victim.
According to the court documents, Hartman told police that the men at the facility called him “Reverend” and he would often preach and give sermons to the group. His wife provided investigators with Hartman’s certification card from the Revival Ministries International Ministerial Association, which identified him as Rev. Thomas Hartman.
A spokesperson from Revival Ministries International Association and Revival Ministries International said.
Mr. Hartman is not is not ordained nor is he credentialed by RMI or RMIMA in any way.
A criminal history check shows that Hartman was convicted of second degree sexual assault of a child in Wisconsin in 1998. He was paroled in 2003 and is a registered level 3 sex offender in Benton County.
During the execution of the search warrant, police found a .22 Savage long rifle and ammunition inside Hartman’s residence. Possession of a firearm is illegal due to his sex offender status.