The Bentonville School District employee accused of raping a five-year-old girl was fired Monday night by the Bentonville School Board.
The School Board voted unanimously to terminate the employment of Ali Martin Matar, 21, who was arrested last Wednesday (May 14) on suspicion of felony rape. He remains in the Benton County Jail on $75,000 bond, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
"We are still trying to understand everything, but we had enough information from working with the Bentonville Police that we decided to terminate him," said Michael Poore, superintendent of Bentonville Public Schools
Matar was placed on paid administrative leave following his arrest and remained a paid employee until his termination Monday night.
"Any time that you go through something like this, I think board members can put themselves in the place of every single person involved, whether it's a student, a parent, a friend, or even a friend of even Matar," Poore said. "There's a variety of different places the board tries to put themselves in. This was not something that was easy for them. They know that this kind of issue is a difficult thing for everybody involved."
(Click here to read the suspect’s probable cause affidavit)
Matar was an employee for the school district’s Adventure Club Program. The girl was raped while attending the program at R.E. Baker Elementary School, according to the Bentonville Police Department.
Court documents state Matar sexually assaulted the girl while the two were alone in the library.
A check of Matar’s criminal record showed no arrests or convictions in the past, according to court documents.
The suspect worked at three other schools in the Bentonville School District, said Poore. The superintendent also said employees at the after-school program are supposed to work in pairs, but that didn’t happen in this child-rape case.
The three schools Matar worked at in the past were Elm Tree Elementary School, Apple Glen Elementary School and Willowbrook Elementary School, according to the superintendent.
Adventure Club is a child care program within the Bentonville School District offered by Childcare Enrichment Services for school-age children from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., according to the Bentonville Public School District’s website.
Bentonville Public Schools Childcare Enrichment Services is a non-profit organization that includes programs like Adventure Club, Building Bridges and Parents As Teachers.
Childcare Enrichment Services is a nonprofit program that was started by Bentonville Public Schools. They have a total of 59 employees, 886 children and their budget for 2014 is $1,951,488, according to the program’s director.
The service is available for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Matar was arrested after an investigation that started with a tip received through a child abuse hotline, police said.
The investigation did not reveal any evidence of other victims, police said.
A letter was sent home to parents about the results of the investigation. To read that letter, click here.
The suspect faces a Class Y felony and 25 to 40 years in prison if convicted, authorities said.
The school district superintendent said the Adventure Club program will continue into the future.
"We would like to continue to work with all families as best as we can to serve them whether it's in the normal academic day or in these after or before school programs," Poore said.