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Fayetteville Schools Athletics Director Arrested for Internet Stalking a Child

BENTON COUNTY, Ark. -- The director of athletics for Fayetteville Public Schools was arrested by Benton County deputies Tuesday night on a charge of internet stalking of a child after he texted with a detective posing as a 14-year-old girl during an investigation.
BENTON COUNTY, Ark. -- Barry Gebhart, 50, director of athletics for Fayetteville Public Schools, was arrested by Benton County Deputies Tuesday night on a charge of internet stalking of a child.

KNWA reports that at a bond hearing on Wednesday, Gebhart was given a $75,000 bond and told to have no unsupervised contact with minors. He was also instructed to stay off the internet and had to turn in his computer and hard drive to investigators.

Court documents show Gebhart went by the name "Big Dog" on a social media app called Whisper. He texted with a detective who was posing as a 14-year-old girl during the investigation, sending explicit pictures of himself and arranging to meet, according to an affidavit.

He was arrested after showing up to the mall for an arranged meeting on October 22nd.

During questioning, he admitted to receiving photos and texts from other underage girls and a senior at Fayetteville High School. He told police he stopped the conversation when he found out she went to school there.

He's been put on administrative leave from the district. 

"As you may already be aware, today has been a difficult day for all of us at the Fayetteville Public Schools and in the Fayetteville community," says Superintendent Vicki Thomas in a letter sent to parents on Wednesday afternoon. "Athletic Director Barry Gebhart was arrested last night by the Benton County Police Department on suspicion of Internet stalking of a child... Upon my notification of his arrest, Gebhart was immediately placed on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the police investigation. We are fully cooperating with the Benton County Sheriff’s department in their investigation."

Thomas urges parents to be vigilant and observe their child's cyber activity.  She also urges parents with concerns regarding the situation, or any other internet safety issues, to contact the school resource officer at 445-1204 or 445-1205.

"The safety of your children is of paramount importance to us," says Thomas. "Anytime there is a possible crime such as this, there is a concern for other potential victims."

Anyone with any information should contact their local police department.

The Fayetteville Police Department may be reached at 479-587-3555.

Gebhart was named Athletic Director in 2009 and had been with the school district since 1984.

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