TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A Sullivan man accused of molesting two children he had been babysitting appeared in Vigo County Court Tuesday.
Austin M. Beal, 26, of Sullivan, appeared in Vigo County Superior Court V Tuesday for a hearing after a planned August jury trial was cancelled at the defendant’s request.
Beal faces a first degree felony charge of child molesting as well as a fourth degree felony charge of child molesting (fondling or touching) in regards to the reported events of September 29, 2022.
On that day, court documents say Beal was babysitting two children at a Terre Haute home. The victim’s parents told police that Beal often babysat for them, however on this day when the parents returned home, their 11-year-old son reported that he had been assaulted.
After Beal reportedly gathered his belongings and quickly walked away from the home, the boy told the parent that Beal had pinned him to the ground and sexually assaulted him. The other child reported she had walked into the home and heard the boy screaming, and when she got to his room she found Beal on top of the boy with the boy’s pants having been removed.
The girl also reported a previous incident during which she claimed Beal had touched her chest under her shirt and refused to stop when she told him, lifting her up to prevent her from getting away before eventually relenting.
Police caught up with Beal as he was walking along Poplar Street. When asked why he left the earlier location, Beal reportedly told police he and the boy’s dad had gotten into a fight and he’d left at his mother’s direction. Police said Beal’s mother arrived to the location and informed police that the victim’s parents had made accusations in the past, but never called police.
Beal was then taken back to the Terre Haute Police Department and interviewed. During the interview, Beal reportedly admitted to assaulting the boy in the boy’s bedroom. Beal said he masturbated while babysitting victim 1 and 2 and was unsure if they caught him in the act. Beal also went on to say he fantasizes about children.
Police said Beal also admitted to touching the girl’s chest in the earlier incident.
During Tuesday’s hearing the court set new pre-trial and jury trial dates after the defense had requested a continuance. Beal is next due in court for a pre-trial hearing on March 26, 2024, with a jury trial scheduled for April 23, 2024.
As part of the hearing, Judge Matthew Sheehan ordered Beal’s bond amount remain set at $100,000 with no 10% allowed.