The former youth minister of Walnut Street Baptist Church appeared in Marshall County District Court this morning and entered a not guilty plea on 15 counts of unlawful transaction with a minor, five counts of sodomy 3rd degree, and five counts of rape 3rd degree.
Robert Byars, 32, of 912 Pine Street, Benton, was arrested at his home by Kentucky State Police after they received a complaint that he was engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year old female. Byars was the minor's youth minister at the church, according to police records.
Police allege Byars' relationship with the minor had become sexual in nature in December 2012 and had continued until his arrest on Monday. Byars is alleged to have had numerous sexual encounters with the minor.
According to the arrest citation filed by KSP Officer Corrie Jessup the acts are alleged to have taken place at times on the church's property at 1605 Walnut Street.
Police say they have pictures and text messages between Byars and the underage female, along with a detailed statement from her. In addition, a search warrant was conducted at Byars' home and several items were seized in the investigation.
Kentucky State Police public information officer Jay Thomas would not confirm who contacted police with the complaint.
Byars has requested a public defender in the case. He is lodged in the Marshall County Detention Center on a $200,000 cash bond. He will appear in Marshall County District Court again next Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.
Byars had reportedly resigned as youth minister at the church about a month ago. Efforts to contact Pastor Joel Frizzell at Walnut Street Baptist Church for comment have been unsuccessful