New charges: 17 young victims accuse former Jeffersonville student of child molestation

New charges: 17 young victims accuse former Jeffersonville student of child molestation
Michael Begin
Michael James Begin (Source: CCSD)
Michael James Begin (Source: CCSD)

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - Twenty new charges and 15 new victims came forward on Friday when Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull filed amended charges against Michael Begin.

In total, now 17 victims, including a three-year-old girl, allege that former Jeffersonville High School student Michael Begin molested them.

"I have never handled a case where I had one offender victimize 17 children, as we do in this case," Mull said.

The children, all girls under seven years old, said the abuse occurred during Early Childhood Education classes at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School or at the Clark County YMCA where Begin worked.

If convicted, Begin could face more than 200 years of prison for the multiple level 3 and level 4 felonies he is charged with.

Mull said Begin receiving that length of a sentence is unlikely because of Begin's age and the age of the victims. He added that a case like this can be very challenging to prove in court.

But Mull stressed that jail time is certainly called for in this case.

"In a situation where you have 17 young girls, it's just...that has to be a case that ends in a lengthy prison sentence," Mull said.

Court records had detailed statements from the victims, all girls between three and seven-years-old.

One seven-year-old girl said she knew Begin and said "he is the one who touches our vaginas and helps us with our homework."

A six-year-old girl described a game she would play with him called "Monster." She said "it involved Michael biting her belly button. Michael would do this by first lifting her shirt up and exposing her breasts"... "there would be skin to skin contact."

One five-year-old girl said "Mr. Michael wouldn't stop putting his hand down her pants while they were on the playground outside."

Another girl, this one six, said "during school breaks, Michael would go inside her underwear and 'dig' on her privates."..."Afterward, it would sometimes hurt when she urinated."

Clark County Prosecutor said despite the young ages of the victims, the first-hand accounts may come up in a trial.

"If we have to do that we will, but obviously the parents are concerned about that, what their children have been through and what the legal system may require the children to do in the future," Mull said.

Surveillance video taken from the YMCA backed up some of the girls' claims.

In one video, the victim was a "three-year-old female, and the video depicts Michael molesting her in the same room, the preschool room. Michael continues to keep his hand under the table, and he can be seen watching one of the other YMCA employees."

"My heart goes out to the young victims in this case, who were just going about their day at the YMCA or the school," Mull said.

The YMCA said in a statement the safety of children is a top priority there and they've taken these allegations very seriously.

Steve Tarver, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Louisville, said in a statement that:

"The safety and well-being of our children is our top priority, and we are fully cooperating with the authorities.  As soon as the allegations emerged, we immediately suspended the employee, and reported the incident to the authorities.  The employee was terminated once the investigation began.  As always, we continue to evaluate policies and procedures to maximize the safety of those we serve."

Begin will be in court Monday morning for a hearing on the new charges.

"At that time, I am going to request the judge to remand him into the custody of the Clark County Jail and hold him in the jail until such time as a trial is conducted in this case," Mull said.

Mull added that it was a difficult situation for the victims, their families and the family of Michael Begin.

Prosecutors said with the updated charges coming out, more victims of Begin may come forward.

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