BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Bentonville man will spend 35 years behind bars for child sex crimes involving multiple minors.
Matthew Russell, 35, was arrested on March 8, 2022, and charged with three counts of rape, one count of engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for visual or print medium, one count of producing, directing, or promoting a sexual performance by a child, one count of employing or consenting to the use of a child in a sexual performance, one count of sexual assault and four counts of sexually grooming a child.
Russell pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on May 25, 2022. He later took a plea agreement during a hearing on May 10, 2023.
As part of the agreement, Russell pleaded guilty to three counts of rape, once count of engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for visual or print medium and one count of sexual assault.
Russell has been sentenced to 35 years for the rape charges. He received a 40-year suspended sentence for the engaging charge and a 20-year suspended sentence for the sexual assault.
Additionally, Russell will register as a sex offender.
Court documents say that at least three of the minors were assaulted while Russell served as their legal guardian.
An affidavit of probable cause details that Russell would frequently bribe the victims with pain pills, illegal drugs, gifts such as cell phones and food such as candy and ice cream.
One of the victims said in an interview with police that he was raped by Russell sometimes several times a week. He noted that “sometimes a few weeks or months would go by, but it would always start up again.”
Russell reportedly also had video recordings from security cameras that had been installed in one of the victim’s bedrooms.