Barry Gebhart, a former Fayetteville athletic director arrested in a child sex sting, is set to appear in Benton County Circuit Court again next month, officials said.
Gebhart appeared briefly in court in Bentonville on Monday (April 7) for a pre-trial hearing, but his lawyers asked to reschedule the hearing for May 5, giving them time to have a defense-team expert examine Gebhart’s computer, said Nathan Smith, deputy prosecuting attorney.
That hearing next month is set to take place in Judge Robin Green’s courtroom.
Authorities said Gebhart was driving a sport utility vehicle owned by the Fayetteville School District on Oct. 22, 2013, when detectives arrested him in the sex sting operation set up at Pinnacle Hills Promenade mall, authorities said.
Deputies carried out the sting at outside a Dillard’s store at the mall, investigators said. Gebhart circled the area several times in the SUV, stopping to look through the store windows before halting the vehicle at a place where he believed he was set to meet with a 14-year-old girl, authorities said. According to investigators, Gebhart connected with the girl through a social media site called Whisper and sent her at least one inappropriate image of himself.
The Benton County Sheriff’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit had set up an account pretending to be a teen as part of its efforts to catch local sexual predators, said Keshia Guyll, Benton County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.
When Gebhart stopped his vehicle to get out, deputies surrounded him and arrested him, according to a probable cause report filed in Benton County Circuit Court. Gebhart was released from jail the same day on $75,000 bond.
Gebhart sent his resignation letter to Fayetteville School District administrators three days after being arrested in Rogers. Vicki Thomas, district superintendent, accepted the athletic director’s resignation letter immediately.
At his arraignment in Benton County on Feb. 18, 2014, Gebhart pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of internet stalking of a child.
He had been the athletic director since 2009 and served as head boys’ basketball coach at Fayetteville High for almost 18 years, from July 1992 to March 2010, according to his LinkedIn profile.