Former Farmington Coach Pleads Not Guilty To Sex Charges | #teacher | #children | #kids

FAYETTEVILLE — A former coach and teacher with the Farmington School District pleaded not guilty in Pike County Circuit Court on Friday in connection with sexual assault incidents involving students in the Murfreesboro School District from 2009 to 2014 when he was employed as a coach.

According to Pike County Circuit Court records, a warrant for the arrest of Charles J. Hornbeck, 37, of 126 Woodcliff Road in Springdale, was served by email on Sept. 10 through his attorney, John Pickett of Texarkana, Texas.

According to court records, Hornbeck is accused of five counts of sexual assault in the first degree and one count of sexual assault in the second degree.

Hornbeck appeared in person Friday at the Pike County Courthouse and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges, according to court records. Bond was set at $75,000 and Hornbeck has been released on bond.

A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 28 in Pike County Circuit Court.

According to an affidavit for an arrest warrant, on Aug. 22, 2019, the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division Child Abuse Hotline faxed a report to the Pike County Sheriff’s Office regarding the sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl.

The warrant affidavit states there were incidents in which Hornbeck engaged in “deviate sexual activity” with three female students in the Murfreesboro School District when Hornbeck was a coach there. Hornbeck was also a youth director at a local church that some of the girls attended.

The girls ranged in age from 15 to 18 at the time the incidents are reported to have taken place between 2009 and 2014. Some of the incidents reportedly took place at the Murfreesboro Public School fieldhouse. Others reportedly happened at Hornbeck’s home when he contacted the girls and asked them to babysit for him.

Pickett said Thursday that Hornbeck was “well-regarded and well-respected both personally and professionally” and he “vehemently denies the accusations against him.”

“He is an innocent man being falsely accused,” Pickett said. “We will vigorously defend him on this.”

Other filings in the case show that two search and seizure warrants were issued by the court, one for information from Hornbeck’s Google account and another for information from Hornbeck’s iCloud account. Information requested included any photos, messages, voicemails and videos.

Hornbeck was recently employed as a teacher and coach with the Farmington School District. His resignation was accepted by the School Board at the board’s Aug. 27 meeting among a list of other resignations, hires and changes to contracts. Beau Thompson, athletic director for the district, confirmed Hornbeck resigned and referred other questions to Superintendent Jon Laffoon.

Laffoon said he was made aware of the charges against Hornbeck on Aug. 11, but he had no information other than what was included in the documents filed in Pike County Circuit Court. Laffoon said Hornbeck, who worked for the district for the last six years, resigned Aug. 14.

Laffoon said the School District received no information regarding similar allegations against Hornbeck while he was employed in Farmington.

“Farmington School District’s top priority is student safety and we investigate all allegations of misconduct and act accordingly,” Laffoon said in a statement released Friday.

Hornbeck, who was known as “Si” at Farmington, was hired May 27, 2014, by Farmington as a teacher/coach. He taught and coached for six seasons (2014-2020) at Farmington after coaching the previous seven years at Murfreesboro.

Hornbeck began as an assistant football coach working with linebackers on defense and fullbacks/tight ends on offense. In 2017, he became head coach for the seventh grade football team and held that post until his resignation just prior to the 2020 football season.

He also was head coach for Farmington’s girls track and field team.

Hornbeck was one of two teachers assigned to come into the classrooms during the day to teach English, science and special education when Farmington High School brought the Alternative Learning Education center program back on campus for the 2017-18 school year.

Lynn Kutter and Mark Humphrey with the Enterprise-Leader contributed to this report.

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