AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Monday, a former deacon of the Hays Hills Baptist Church has been sentenced to 10 years on charges of sexually assaulting young girls under the age of 12 from 2002 through 2007.
Charles Sweet, 85, was arrested back in May after the allegations came to light.
In May, investigators interviewed Sweet about the accusations brought against him. He admitted to police that he had sexually abused multiple young girls and specifically named the victim who came forward. Sweet told police his inappropriate touching was due either to sex addiction or uncontrollable impulses.
In a statement on Monday, David Sweet, Charles Sweet’s son and associate pastor at Hays Hills Baptist Church gave the following statement [in part]:
“Seven years ago, we learned that in the past (now some 15 years ago) my father Charles Sweet had sexually abused our youngest daughter, as a child. When we became aware of the abuse, I reported the abuse to the police and they began an investigation.
Charles Sweet was removed as a member of Hays Hills Baptist Church, not because we were not willing to forgive him, but because having him at church presented a potential concern for the welfare of children.
At the same time the church staff, with the advice of a team of deacons and their spouses, notified the church that he was being removed, while also following the advice of the Austin Police Department in how to protect the identity of our daughter who was 15 years old at that time.
Our family sold his vehicle and did not allow him to attend any other church, for the same concerns above, or to leave the house without his wife–my mother–driving him. He has been largely confined to home for the past seven years.”
Sweet’s son continued:
“The police have an extremely hard job and we greatly respect detectives who worked this year on the case. But in 2012 the final thing we were asked by the detectives at that time — after my father confessed and interviews were done — is to take our daughter for a physical exam. This was seven years after the abuse ended. We said no to that since our daughter was traumatized just in speaking about it. We thought his confession and the victims statement were adequate and my father planned to plead guilty. Apparently our decision on the physical exam was a reason for the police to not pursue charges. We placed my father in virtual house arrest, so we were at peace with the results. That is until we learned that there were other victims.”
According to David Sweet, in May 2019 the church learned that investigators in Travis Co. reopened the investigation after another victim had come forward. David says that at this time his daughter was contacted and wanted to pursue charges again was interviewed again, as were David and his wife.
David says his daughter is now 22 and has undergone counseling. He says she is okay with having her identity known within reason, saying: “We are glad she came forward in 2012 when she did in so that we could take action.”
David says before their daughter came forward, the family had no idea of his father’s “secret sickness or actions.” David says nothing had surfaced about any actions in previous decades before the incidents that were reported. He says the family never would have left their children with both of his parents had they even suspected it was possible.
“Seven years ago we experienced what too many parents experience: a heart-stopping shock and sorrow. To think that our child went to bed each night for years holding in these terrible memories because she did not want the family to experience any trauma, is very painful. No child should be stabbed in the back by a loved one in this way and have to deal with the terrible after-effects. We hope this is another opportunity for parents to speak to their children about sexual abuse.”
David says that on Monday his daughter gave her victim’s impact statement and that it was “very strong and brave,” saying that the family is very proud of her and the other victim for what they did.
According to District Attorney Margaret Moore’s Office, Sweet took a plea deal for 10 years on two different cases of indecency with a child by contact.
KXAN’s Jacqulyn Powell, Alex Caprariello and Matt Prendergast contributed to this story.