JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) – A 19-year-old Jeffersonville man is now admitting to molesting young girls while he worked at a YMCA and an elementary school.
Michael Begin told a Clark County judge he wanted to change his plea on Friday morning, pleading guilty to 20 counts of felony child molestation of children under 14 as part of a plea deal. He originally faced 27 counts.
This comes less than a week and a half before his trial was scheduled to begin.
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said Begin’s plea is positive for the victims and the families in this case.
“I think a lot of them were relieved that A -- we were able to get convictions in the case and B -- that their children were not going to have to testify," Mull said. “These children range in age from three-years-old to eight-years-old.”
Begin was arrested in October of 2017. Court documents said Begin would touch and fondle young girls at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and at the Clark County YMCA in Jeffersonville.
Since his initial arrest, a number of other victims came forward or were identified on video surveillance as having been touched inappropriately by Begin.
Begin told the judge the information listed in the probable cause affidavit and police reports about how the abuse occurred was true.
His attorney, Jennifer Culotta, said this deal is the best resolution for all involved.
“I think everybody wanted a resolution on this case from the beginning," Culotta said. "These types of cases are very complex and there’s a lot of pain on all sides. We reviewed the evidence, we spent lots of time with Michael and his family. We came to the decision that this was the best resolution to start the healing process.”
She said there’s a lot of work to be done to prepare for the sentencing, but added everyone is ready to put this behind them.
“We want to begin the healing process and that’s our philosophy,” Culotta said.
Mull said the biggest accomplishment Friday is that this plea brings justice for Begin’s many victims in this case.
“The important thing was that all 20 of the victims got justice today,” Mull said. "He is convicted of the molesting for every one that I had charged and the judge has the ability to send him to prison for the rest of his natural life under this agreement.”
During the sentencing hearing, Mull said, he and the families of the victims will push for a hefty prison sentence to ensure Begin cannot harm anyone else’s child.
“Many of the parents of the victims will be there to testify, to ask the judge to impose a lengthy prison sentence and that’s the day when we can finally finish this and ultimately get the end result of justice for the victims,” Mull said.
The judge accepted Begin’s plea. As part of the plea agreement, the judge ordered Begin have no contact with the victims or their families in this case.
A pre-sentence investigation will be conducted, to be completed and sent to the judge by Feb. 22.
Begin will be sentenced March 21. As part of the plea agreement accepted, he could face between two and 120 years in prison.