Alleged child molester pleads not guilty, families demand justice
JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) – "I will stand here until the day I die to get that boy put in prison for the rest of his life, because that's what he deserves," said Tina Stahl, a grandmother of one of the young girls allegedly molested by Michael Begin.
Monday morning was an emotional day for the 17 families like Stahl's, as an alleged predator appeared in court. The families faced the 18-year-old charged with molesting their young girls last fall at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School or at the Clark County YMCA where he worked.
Begin was in court Monday to face the additional 20 counts of child molestation brought against him last Friday by the Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull. Begin entered a plea of not guilty.
Emotions were running high in the courtroom, the families of the 17 victims watching the hearing looking both angry and defeated.
One family says they needed to be here to see what they called a "monster" held accountable for reportedly touching these girls.
Begin faces 22 child molestation charges in all, for allegedly molesting 17 girls between three and seven years old.
Tina Stahl says she's here to stand for her six-year-old granddaughter. She said her granddaughter explained how Begin touched her at school.
"And she says, yeah daddy, that's the guy that helps me with my homework and touches my vagina at school," Stahl said.
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull asked that Begin be brought back to the Clark County Jail and a higher bond set following the additional charges and victim reports. The judge raised Begin's bond to $100,000. It's not the $1 million bond Mull asked for, but he stressed that the higher bond is needed to protect the public from Begin ahead of a trial.
"It's my feeling that the bond is necessary to protect the community in light of the type of allegations and the number of them," Mull said.
He worries that Begin's behavior is compulsive and there won't be anything to stop him touching other girls if he's able to make bond again.
"We have no discovery at this point," Begin's attorney, Jennifer Culotta said. "When we receive the discovery, we will make a comment."
She declined to say much coming out of the courtroom Monday, but said Begin maintains his innocence.
Stahl said she needs to see Begin held accountable in court for what he's done to their family.
"I'm standing here and I'll be standing here every day this door is open for this child because that's my baby," Stahl said. "And she should not have had to go through this at the age of six years old. And her sister should not have been able to say, 'oh there's lots of kids he plays with granny. He doesn't touch the older kids because he knows we'll tell. And I feel sorry for his family, I really do. But they don't have to live with a six-year-old child that sits and plays with her baby dolls and does inappropriate things because she learned it from him at school, and at day care and wherever else he touched these little girls at."
Stahl said she worries Begin will post bond and avoid being held accountable for what he's accused of doing to her family and others.
"And she's got to live the rest of her life with this," Stahl said. "And what does he get, a slap on the wrist?"
The Greater Clark School District, which operates the elementary school where Begin was allegedly touching these young girls, declined to comment saying they didn't want to hurt the police investigation.
The YMCA of Greater Louisville provided the following statement when asked to comment on the allegations that Begin was touching children at the Clark County YMCA:
"The safety and well-being of our children is our top priority. 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."
A trial date has been scheduled in the case for August 21.
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