Teen Teaching Assistant Faces 24 Counts of Child Molestation

The suspect allegedly molested 17 children between the ages of 3 and 8 at the Clark County Family YMCA and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.
Published: January 30, 2018

An Indiana high school student is facing 24 charges for allegedly molesting 17 children ages 3 to 8 at a local YMCA and elementary school.

Michael Begin, 18, pleaded not guilty back in October to two felony counts of child molestation. He was released on $10,000 bond and was placed on electronic monitoring.

Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull announced Friday that Begin was to be charged with 22 more counts after more children came forward following his arrest, reports CBS.

“It’s possible there are other victims that we’re not aware of yet,” said Mull.

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Begin worked at the Clark County Family YMCA and as a teaching assistant at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, both located in Jeffersonville.

According to court records, police opened an investigation on September 25 after a 5-year-old girl reportedly told her mother that Begin “wouldn’t stop putting his hand down her pants while they were on the playground outside” at the YMCA.

Then, on October 16, police received two more reports of first-graders being molested at Thomas Jefferson Elementary. The two students say Begin fondled them. One of the incidents was captured on surveillance video. Investigators were led to four more youths by watching the video, according to The Indy Star.

According to police, Begin was seen touching a 5-year-old beneath a table as she colored, occasionally looking up at the door where people would enter the room. Begin then attempted to do the same to a 4-year-old girl who slapped his hand away.

In total, police say 17 children were victimized between January and October of 2017.

Begin is facing 19 counts of level 4 felony child molestation and five counts of level 3 felony molestation. When he was arrested on October 18, he allegedly told police he wasn’t sure why he did it and that it was an error in judgment.

Begin’s attorney, Jennifer Culotta, waived the reading of rights on the new charges and entered a plea of not guilty.

Prosecutor, Victims’ Families Say Bond Too Low

During the hearing, Mull said in light of the new charges, which are alleged to have happened prior to the initial October hearing, Begin should be incarcerated and requested a $1 million cash-only bond.

“I have very deep concern for the community with Mr. Begin being out on bond,” Mull said, adding that electronic monitoring is not a foolproof way to prevent crime. “There’s nothing preventing that except his decision not to do it.”

As of Monday, Begin remained in jail on a $100,000 cash bond.

“I’m fearful that Mr. Begin might make that bond and continue to be a danger to the community,” said Mull.

Tina Stahl, the grandmother of one of the victims, agrees the $100,000 bond is too low.

“My granddaughter’s got to live the rest of her life knowing that somebody she was supposed to trust can sit in the YMCA, in front of God knows how many other adults, and have some teenage boy mess with her,” Stahl said. “And she’s got to live the rest of her life with this. What’s he getting? Nothing.”

Stahl says her granddaughter pointed out Begin during a news report after he was initially charged, indicating he was the man who helps her with homework and who molested her.

The father of another victim, who requested not to be identified, says he holds the YMCA responsible for not taking action sooner. Another parent’s earlier accusations were allegedly dismissed by the YMCA. If they had been taken seriously, he says it could have prevented the other alleged acts that later occurred at the elementary school.

“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.”

A trial date has been set for August 21.

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