SALINE COUNTY, Ark. – A leader at a Buddhist temple in central Arkansas has been arrested for beating a child whom he had guardianship of, according to a law enforcement official.
Saline County deputies arrested Ke Nguyen on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at Pine Haven Elementary in Bauxite, which sits directly behind the Bat Nha Temple on Tom Road.
Nguyen, who also goes by Thich Hanh Hieu, faces a second-degree battery charge, according to an arrest report.
A law enforcement source tells us the 9-year-old victim showed up to school with marks on his body, which got the attention of administrators and the school resource officer.
Nguyen, the boy’s legal guardian, was arrested a short time later.
Nguyen was awarded guardianship of a child in Saline county in August 2017, according to court records. The records do not indicate the identity of the child.
An online search of the Bat Nha Temple lists a ‘Ke Nguyen’ as the president of the organization. An online article by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2010 mentions ‘Thich Hanh Hieu’ as the resident monk who came to the temple from Vietnam in 2006.
The Bat Nha Temple is surrounded by fencing and located just off Highway 183, along Tom Road. The temple opened in 2005, according to an online encyclopedia of Arkansas.
Pine Haven Elementary is located less than a half mile away from the temple.
Word of the arrest has shocked people in the town of less than 500.
“I guess it happens everywhere, but out here they stay on top of that stuff,” Randy Brooks says.
Brooks owns a boat shop along Highway 184 on the west side of Bauxite.
“Bauxite is just a sleepy little town between Benton and Bryant. We have nearly zero crime.”
Nguyen has since bonded out of the Saline county jail on a $10,000 signature bond, according to the Saline county prosecuting attorney’s office.
Nguyen is scheduled to appear in court on October 15 at 1 p.m.