BENTON, AR - First Baptist Church in Benton's former Music Minister David Pierce is up for parole less than two years into a ten-year-term on sexual indecency charges.
Members of the church say they still can't talk about what happened for decades behind closed doors. David Pierce earned the congregation's trust during his 29-year stay, but now that he's up for parole members say they're struggling to forgive and forget.
A judge sentenced Pierce to ten years in the Department of Correction after he admitted to abusing 11 boys for his own sexual gratification.
"Being a member of the church, and going through that with them, I don't think it's time yet," said Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington, a member of First Baptist. He arrested Pierce himself in April, 2009.
Wednesday's first parole hearing is unsettling for members and the victims who came forward years ago - ultimately leading to Pierce's incarceration on four counts of sexual indecency indecency with a child. He was initially charged with more than 50.
"As the Bible says, we're supposed to forgive. And I'm hoping everyone can forgive. But do you forget that easily? I don't think so," said Sheriff Pennington.
Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Ken Casady read a letter to the parole board stating, "All the while he was a sham, ministering to parents and a congregation, inspecting which sheep to cull from the flock."
But Pierce's Defense Attorney believes he's been punished enough.
"According to the way I read, verbatim, the scriptures, Jesus tells us to forgive our trespassers seven time 70," said Defense Attorney Mark Hampton. "No one wants to spend one day, much less years, in the Department of Correction. It does what it's supposed to do. It punishes people severely."
The parole board meets again Tuesday to hear Pierce's attorney's argument. They could vote as early as that day on whether or not to put Pierce up for parole.
David Pierce worked as the music minister at First Baptist Church for 29 years before his 2009 arrest.
Many victims were in their 20's and 30's when they came forward to police about Pierce's actions towards them when they were young.
David Pierce is diagnosed as a level three sex offender.