doc martens logo bond raised due to new molestation charges
JEFFERSONVILLE A man accused of molesting 17 young children has been sent back to jail after a hearing on the amended charges Monday.
Michael Begin, 18, faces 19 charges of level 4 felony child molestation and five counts of level 3 felony molestation alleged to have taken place at the Clark County Family YMCA, where Begin worked, and at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, where he was in a cadet teaching program.
Begin was first charged in October with two counts of child molestation and released when he met the $10,000 bond. Twenty two additional charges were filed Friday and relate to 17 alleged victims.
In Clark County Court No. 1, Begin’s attorney, Jennifer Culotta, waived the reading of rights on these new charges and entered a plea of not guilty.
Begin has been on electronic monitoring since his October release. But Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said in light of these new charges, which are alleged to have happened prior to the initial October hearing,
he felt Begin should be incarcerated and he requested a $1 million cash only bond.
“I have very deep concern for the community with Mr. Begin being out on bond,” Mull said during the hearing. He added that electronic monitoring is not a foolproof way to prevent crime. “There’s nothing preventing that except his decision not to do it.”
Culotta rebuffed the bond request, stating in court that the purpose of bond is not to punish a defendant, but to ensure they appear in court. She said her client has complied with all rules of the court since the case was opened.
“He has violated nothing,” she said. “There is nothing to indicate that he is a danger to anybody.”
Judge Andrew Adams set the bond at $100,000 cash only. Culotta asked the judge what protections Begin would be given in jail. He is 18 and she said media attention surrounding the case may put her client in danger. Adams said he trusted the sheriff, who was present in court, to make any calls on how to house Begin.
Begin’s family was in the courtroom, as were families of victims.
One man, who requested not to be identified, said he holds the YMCA responsible for not taking action sooner,
saying that another parent was dismissed when they approached the YMCA with accusations. He said if the parent had been taken seriously, that could have prevented the other alleged acts from occurring later at Thomas Jefferson Elementary.
“It’s very overwhelming,” he said. “It disgusts me that my 6 year old child was at school doing what she needed to be doing and she gets molested.”
YMCA of Greater Louisville President and CEO Steve Tarver said in a statement issued Friday that Begin was suspended as soon as the Y became aware of the allegations, and terminated once the investigation began.
The father said in the beginning of the case, he felt some empathy toward Begin for what might have happened to cause him to allegedly commit these acts.
But when the charges rose to more than 20 with 17 alleged victims, his feelings hardened.
“The kid is a monster,” he said.
One family prepared a statement in which it questioned employee oversight at the YMCA.
“Clearly Michael Begin is a disturbed individual and we want a long prison sentence for him,” the family’s statement read. “We also want the YMCA to be held accountable. Hearing our own daughter’s account of what happened and now reading some of the quotes from the other girls, it is clear this had become ‘normal’ to them. Michael was able to get away with this in plain sight over a span of several months.
“Why did it take a girl finally going to her parents for him to be caught?” the statement continued. “We believe it speaks to the lack of leadership and oversight in the YMCA childcare program. The understaffing, level of distraction among staff, and again lack of oversight allowed this predator access and opportunity to abuse these girls.”
Tina Stahl said her 6 year old family member pointed Begin out during a news report after he was initially charged,
saying that he is the man who helps her with homework and who had molested her.
“She’s got to live the rest of her life with this,” Stahl said, adding that she thinks the bond is too low. She said she’s worried that the children won’t get justice.
“They’re going to say there’s something wrong with him, mentally,” she said. “And there is something wrong with him mentally and I feel sorry for his family. But they don’t have to live with a 6 year old child that sits and plays with her baby dolls and does inappropriate things with them because she learned it from him at school.”
Culotta had no comment following the hearing, saying that her client maintains his innocence and they look forward to discovery in this case.
Mull said he was disappointed that the bond was not as high as he’d requested.
“I’m fearful that Mr. Begin might make that bond and continue to be a danger to the community,” he said after the hearing.
“In all cases, but especially cases like this, I feel an immense responsibility to try to get justice for the victims and for the families. I will do everything in my power . to try to get a resolution in this case that involves a conviction and an appropriate prison sentence.”
Begin has a trial date set for Aug. 21. It is not known whether it may be one trial or 22 separate trials. That depends on what is found through discovery, Culotta said during the hearing.
The case is still under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to contact the Jeffersonville Police Department.