Miller County jury acquits pastor of rape charges

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A Miller County jury handed down three verdicts of not guilty Tuesday for a pastor who has spoken from the pulpits of local churches and currently resides in California.

David Jerome Keener, 36, was accused of molesting the girl, a relative, beginning when she was a 9-year-old and he was 18. The alleged victim claimed Keener sodomized her repeatedly in a back bedroom of his family’s home in Texarkana, Ark., while she was at the house being babysat while her parents were at work or between Sunday church services when their extended family would get together.

Keener denied any wrongdoing Tuesday as he testified under questioning from Fayetteville, Ark., attorney Brandon Pickett. Pickett argued in closing remarks that the alleged victim’s story was too incredible to be believed and questioned why family members she told of the abuse never reported it to law enforcement. Keener was represented by Fayetteville lawyer Seth Bowman as well.

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Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Kristian Robertson and Connie Mitchell argued that the alleged victim kept silent about the abuse because she feared members of her family and feared tearing her family apart. The prosecution pointed to messages exchanged between Keener and a sister of the alleged victim in which Keener apologized for what he had done. Keener claimed he had never seen the Facebook messages and denied having a part in writing them.

Keener is no longer facing any criminal charges.

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