Other Potential Victims Questioned In School Rape Investigation

A Bentonville family says their six-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted by former school district employee Ali Matar at Willowbrook Elementary School.

The girl is among six or seven children being interviewed by police in a sexual assault investigation that reaches beyond R.E. Baker Elementary School, where three alleged victims said Matar raped or sexually assaulted them, authorities said.

Matar was an employee for the Bentonville School District’s Adventure Club, an after-school program at several local schools. He was fired May 19 following his arrest on suspicion of rape May 14.

Police have not confirmed any other alleged victims in the case, but continue to question kids from other schools.

There are three children police said they so far believe are victims in the case—a five year old and two six year olds at R.E. Baker Elementary. All of the alleged victims are girls.

Matar, 21, remains in the Benton County Jail on $250,000 bond. He faces two charges of rape and one charge of sexual assault. His arraignment is scheduled for June 24, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

Bentonville School District Supt. Michael Poore said the district is working with the Children’s Advocacy Center and Bentonville police to help parents talk to their children about the allegations. He said Bentonville High School will host a parent forum on the subject Thursday at 7 p.m.

Matar’s May 14 arrest on suspicion of rape concerned a single alleged victim. Court documents state Matar sexually assaulted the girl while the two were alone in R.E. Baker Elementary School’s library. Police on May 23 announced that two other potential victims had come forward.

The suspect worked at four schools in the Bentonville School District, including Baker, Willowbrook, Apple Glen and Elm Tree elementary schools. Poore said employees at the after-school program are supposed to work in pairs, but that did not happen at least in the initial rape case.

Matar could face 25 to 40 years in prison for each rape charge and five to 20 years behind bars for the sexual assault charge, if convicted.

7 comments

  • Sean

    Reporters need to be working on getting school officials on record about why the “working in pairs” policy was neither followed or enforced

    • objectivefodder

      I totally agree. What happened to participatory and active questioning by area journalist? Doesn’t the public have an interest here? Investigative journalist should be asking questions, not simply reporting fluffy feel good or sensationalized feedback suited for pacifist. Has our local corporatized media been hijacked by authoritarians that discourages objectivity? C’mon folks. Someone other than local law enforcement needs to be prying in to questions and complaints. This information is supposed to be public-but is it? Cover up anyone? The citizenry will lose with an out of court costly lawsuit settlement when it’s all done. There’d better be some accountability and answers here.

  • Mick Mccartney

    He will know how it feels to be raped very soon by his much bigger meaner prison cell mates. Looks life life in prison coming for him. And he may have been a victim of child abuse himself; likely in such cases.

    With the study of MRI of the brain, they are learning they may be able to tell who is a pedophile . And schools will use this in the future for hiring and the vetting process.

  • objectivefodder

    I totally agree Sean. What happened to participatory and active questioning by area journalist? Doesn’t the public have an interest here? Investigative journalist should be asking questions, not simply reporting fluffy feel good or sensationalized feedback suited for pacifist. Has our local corporatized media been hijacked by authoritarians that discourages objectivity? C’mon folks. Someone other than local law enforcement needs to be prying in to questions and complaints. This information is supposed to be public-but is it? Cover up anyone? The citizenry will lose with an out of court costly lawsuit settlement when it’s all done. There’d better be some accountability and answers here.

  • Joe

    When was the school district going to share this information with the parents of children who went to one of these schools? There should be full transparency here, especially if you have a child who was in his class. I un-enrolled my daughter the second I found out. I’ve yet to receive any kind of letter or communication about any of this. I had to call a number of times to finally find someone who did a terrible job at answering the questions I had and still have.

    The excuse they gave me was they didn’t have my email address yet I get emails from them each week letting me know how much money I owe them. This area has a way of sweeping things like this under the rug and we need to make sure that not only the parents know and are aware but also the public.

    Here are a couple examples of similar incidents happening in the local area that seem to have been silenced by someone or some group.
    – Fayetteville athletic director who arranged to meet an underage girl that was actually an undercover officer.
    – The 13 year old girl who was assaulted by a passerby two weeks ago while at school.

    • Concerned Willowbrook Parent

      As a parent of a student at Willowbrook, I just received the following email from Superintendent Michael Poore:

      Dear Willowbrook families,

      I am writing this letter to dispel several factually incorrect statements that were shared in a morning broadcast from Channel 5. In the report it was shared that Willowbrook Elementary had not been forthright about an investigation of misconduct by an Adventure Club employee. Let me be clear about several facts:

      – Adventure Club is a program that is run separately from the school site, and our principals have no supervisory responsibility of this program.
      – All parents who are a part of the Adventure Club program, including Willowbrook parents, have received notifications from my office of the investigation of an Adventure Club employee since this investigation began.
      – Currently there are three pending charges against a former employee of the Adventure Club, and all three pending charges came from R.E. Baker Elementary Adventure Club.
      – We continue to advocate to parents that are a part of our Adventure Club to notify the Bentonville Police Department with any concerns of misconduct.
      -This is an ongoing police investigation.

      I hope this letter is helpful in simply sharing the facts as they exist. If you have any concerns about this matter please do not hesitate to call me.

  • Joe

    So should we notify the police department about concerns of misconduct from the administration of those supervising the Adventure Club staff too?

    Also, I’m a parent of a student who used to be in Adventure Club. Why have I not received any communication?! My child was a student at Adventure Club until the news made all of this public.

    It would be nice to know what the reporting structure looks like for Adventure Club. I know they do not report to the principals but I am pretty sure they eventually report through Mr. Poore.

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