Detectives are wondering if any more alleged victims will come forward, after a Little Rock doctor turned himself in on charges of sexual abuse.
Dr. James Nesmith surrendered to authorities Monday after a months-long investigation in which four men claimed that he molested them when they were teenagers.
“Mr. Nesmith had several victims,” said Lt. Michael Ford of the Little Rock Police Department, “who made a complaint through DHS over a time-period from 2000 to 2015 of sexual assaults.”
Nesmith has spent most of his adult life around teenagers, practicing adolescent medicine at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. But according to the hospital, he was taken off its list of active staff in May. Ford said that is roughly the same time an alleged victim finally let police investigate his claims.
“Victims claimed that he was a church mentor,” Ford added Wednesday. “That’s how they knew him.”
According to court records, Nesmith led youth groups and worked with teens at Covenant Presbyterian Church. Per the arrest affidavit and police reports, he frequently encouraged the teens to take their clothes off.
One victim reported that Nesmith asked the teens to skinny dip with him, and hugged them while they were naked. The same victim said there were several instances in Nesmith’s home in which Nesmith fondled himself in front of the victim, both clothed and unclothed. Victims also reported that Nesmith grabbed their genitals.
A pastor at the church heard about the claims, and as a mandated reporter, told DHS via its Child Mistreatment Hotline.
Officers filed reports about two of the four men who claim Nesmith abused them, while the statute of limitations prevented them from investigating the allegations of the other two. Ford said detectives want to talk to anyone else Nesmith might have molested.
“We’ve already had multiple victims that have came forward and said that they were sexually assaulted by this suspect, that we believe that there may be more out there,” he stated.
“If they do, then we’ll proceed with those cases, too, also.”
People at Covenant Presbyterian chased a THV11 reporter away from their building and refused to comment.
In a statement, Arkansas Children’s Hospital said, "To be clear, these allegations involve volunteer work at a church and do not involve Arkansas Children's patients, Arkansas Children's Hospital or the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. At Arkansas Children's, the safety of the children in our care is our number one priority. Dr. Nesmith has not been a member of the Active Medical Staff since May. We cannot discuss pending criminal matters, which deserve due process and full cooperation. We refer you to the Little Rock Police Department's Public Affairs Division for response."
Nesmith’s lawyer, Bill James, said that Nesmith denies any wrongdoing. James chose not to comment further, saying he had not spent enough time with the case.
Nesmith’s next court appearance will be to enter a plea. James said prosecutors have not filed formal charges yet, so an arraignment is likely two months or more away.
If anyone wishes to report an incident with Nesmith, call the Little Rock Police at 501-371-4605 or the DHS child abuse hotline at 800-482-5694. The DHS hotline makes it easier to report anonymously.
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