Community Reacts to Former Fayetteville AD’s Arrest
The investigation continues into the former Fayetteville Athletic Director who was arrested by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. Benton County investigators say Barry Gebhart planned to meet an underage girl.
Gebhart graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1981 and had worked for the school district for more than two decades.
Tom Alford is part of the FHS Class of 1973. He’s in Fayetteville visiting from Arizona for his 40th high school reunion.
“It shocks everybody in the community,” said Alford.
Alford said most of high school reunion was spent talking about work and family. However, he said, Gebhart’s arrest came up just a few times.
“Might have been two or three people,” Alford said. “If you mentioned it, people knew about it and they’ve seen it on the news.”
Gebhart was arrested in connection with internet stalking of a child after an undercover investigation. According to investigators, he arranged a meeting with a 14-year old girl. Cyber crimes division posed as the girl on the social media site Whisper.
“I thought it was sad to hear that somebody that’s involved with the youth, that’s probably come up through the ranks and been a part of the community for a long time had this situation,” Alford said.
Alford’s sister Toni Thorn graduated from FHS in 1966. She’s a counselor for the Rogers School District.
“He had such a great reputation and was so well thought of in the community and you just never expect this kind of thing to happen,” Thorn said.
In the meantime, Benton County investigators are combing through electronic data including Gebhart’s cell phone records.
“Shocked and feeling very sad for the family and friends that are really going to suffer the consequences of his actions,” Thorn said.
Gebhart is out on a $75,000 bond and a judge ordered him not to have electronic devices.
Alford said, “In this society we live in you’re innocent until proven guilty so I’m sure he needs to be allowed that privilege.”
The Fayetteville School District plans to meet next week to see who will replace Gebhart after he resigned. He’s next scheduled to be in court in Benton County December 2nd.
Click here to read more on Gebhart’s case.