Former Piney Ridge Employee Facing Child Porn Charge

BENTONVILLE (KFSM) — A former Piney Ridge Treatment Center employee is accused of trying to solicit a nude photo from a former patient.

Rodney Dewayne Thomas, 26, of West Memphis was arrested Monday (April 9) in connection with one count of engaging children in sexually explicit conduct — a Class B felony.

The 17-year-old boy told Bentonville police that Thomas recently reached back out to him through social media and asked for a nude photo of him, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The boy said he first met Thomas a few years ago when he spent 10 months in Piney Ridge, which treats children suffering from sexual abuse disorders, according to its website.

The boy said he and Thomas were close, and Thomas promised to “treat (him) well,” according to the affidavit.

However, after his first month at the center, the boy said Thomas started “conditioning” him and was “feeling on him” by the second month.

The boy told a therapist about Thomas’ behavior and the center fired Thomas days later, but no charges were pressed, according to the affidavit.

Adrienne Catalina, CEO at Piney Ridge, said Thomas was fired in 2015. She couldn’t comment on the allegations due to federal and state laws protecting patient privacy.

“Every employee at the facility undergoes a comprehensive pre-employment screening and background check. In addition, we maintain a zero tolerance policy for any action that could endanger the physical or emotional well-being of a patient,” Catalina said.

“Employees found to be in violation of our abuse and neglect policies are immediately suspended pending a full investigation and prompt disciplinary action – including termination – is taken as warranted.”

Thomas was being held Wednesday (April 11) at the Benton County Jail on a $30,000 bond. He has a hearing set for May 21 in Benton County Circuit Court.