By Associate Editor Joe May

Editor’s note: We’d like to hear feedback from readers about the appropriateness of this story and others like it for the news site.

CLARKSVILLE, Ark. (BNc)- A minister with the Clarksville church of Christ has pleaded not guilty to raping children under his care.

According to a story by Mary Kinsey Benefield in the Russellville, Ark.-based Courier-News, Jose Banda, 48, was arrested in late December for the alleged rape of five girls under the age of 14 who were members of the local body at Clarksville.

Banda, a Mexico native and resident alien in the US, was employed by the Clarksville congregation as a Hispanic minister from July 2002 until the charges surfaced in November 2007.

According to the newspaper, police were summoned to the Johnson Regional Medical Center where they met with two girls under 14 who alleged that Banda had raped them. The next day, Arkansas State Police Investigator Stacie Rhoads conducted interviews with five girls–including the original two victims.

All claim to have been raped by the suspect, police stated.

On October 3, 2007, church leaders placed Banda on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He was relieved of all ministerial duties at that time, church leaders told the newspaper.

Banda, known as “Emano” to the girls, often took groups of children on outings to McDonalds and a local park on what was known as “Girls’ Night.” The outings were apparently done without the knowledge or consent of the church leaders, the newspaper stated.

The girls told police the incidents allegedly took place on church outings and in an office at the church building.

Banda remains in custody at the Johnson County Detention Center under a $500,000 bond. Trial is set for May 29.

According to Churches of Christ in the United States, the Clarksville congregation averages around 260 members.



  1. We should not look for bad news to share but we also should not sweep it under the carpet.

    I would suspect that there are far more positive news stories to report than ones of this nature but if these charges are true the brotherhood needs to be aware in case this gentleman ends up going someplace else and harming others.

  2. This is a sad but necessary story to report upon. Some would say, “Don’t air it out in public.” Hogwash, its already out there and rightfully so, if true.

  3. I think that you have a responsibility to report the incident in question so that we can “mark” this person (ref. to Pauls admonition Phil. 3:17-19) and know his evil works.

    God’s word is unique in that it tells both the good that men do and the evil. King David was a wonderful servant of God described as “a man after God’s own heart” but he was guilty of the ugly sins of adultery and murder. If God saw fit to include these distasteful facts in His inspired word then you should be like-minded in reporting both the good along with the shameful.

  4. I agree that news of this nature needs to be reported but only if the man was convicted. Numerous men and women have been falsely accused of horrendous crimes by others, including our Lord Jesus, without any basis in fact. It is not news that someone has been accused; it is only gossip until it is proved. There is a man, that I know, who was convicted of child molestation simply because his youngest son claimed, at the prompting of others, that he had be molested. A child’s word was taken as sufficient proof to ruin a man’s life for 10 years. Proof is not only what the world should require, it is exactly what God demands.

  5. i am a youth minister at a church in benton, ar… and I am constantly aware of some of the under-privaledged children that we bring to church… they will tell a fib to get something they want.

    I am in no way saying that this is the case… as I know nothing about this story other than what I’ve read.

    I only mention it because the elders have spoken to me at great length concerning the necessity of having a woman present at all gatherings of children in the youth program.

    I believe that we have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that the children are secure in the environment we provide for them to learn about Our Lord and fellowship with others.

  6. The problem with such news stories is that a person is assumed guilty until proven innocent. This is understandably an extremely emotive subject, thus extreme care should be taken at all times when considering publication.

  7. Presumed innocent until proven guilty. God knows the heart of this man – as He knew the heart of David. We must be aware of sin in the camp (i.e. Achen) in order to act accordingly. Please pray for all men to seek purity in every action. Would you want that type of prayer said on your behalf?