On Wednesday, Austin resident Charles Sweet, 85, was booked into the Hays County Jail on one charge of Indecency With a Child, Sexual Contact, a second-degree felony.
Sweet, who was accused earlier this week of sexually abusing multiple women from 1990 to the mid-2000’s, was released Wednesday on a personal recognizance (PR) bond. His bail has been set at $100,000. According to Hays County Jail records, the charge stemmed from an offense that occurred Jan. 1, 2000. Sweet’s warrant was issued by Hays County Justice of the Peace Pct. 1.2 Maggie H. Moreno.
Sweet was originally arrested May 16 by Austin Police on two charges of indecency with a child by contact.
A former Hays Hills Baptist Church deacon faces charges of indecency with a child by contact after authorities accused him of abusing two girls, now adults, in the past.
During the course of a joint investigation conducted by Austin Police and the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, authorities believe “multiple” women had been sexually abused by Charles Sweet, 85, of Austin over the course of several years.
Sweet was arrested Thursday and was booked into the Travis County Jail, according to multiple reports. Sweet had been a deacon at Hays Hills Baptist Church in the Buda area until he was removed following a 2012 sexual abuse of a child investigation conducted by Austin Police, according to KXAN. Sweet was released on a personal recognizance bond.
Eric Guevara, a detective with the Austin Police Child Abuse Unit, said the Hays County Sheriff’s Office in January received report from an adult woman who accused Sweet of sexually abusing her when she was younger, Guevara said. The alleged abuse took place in Hays County and in the Austin area.
Guevara, who reopened the 2012 investigation, discovered “multiple” girls, who are now adults, were abused by Sweet.
Authorities interviewed Sweet and several now adult females who were identified as victims of abuse. Guevara said the victims ranged from 6 to 12 years old at the time of the incidents with the alleged abuse taking place at Sweet’s residence in Austin and in the Hays County area.
Guevara said Sweet was affiliated with Hays Hills Baptist Church from the early 1990s and into the 2000s.
Along with his affiliation with Hays Hills, Guevara said Sweet’s wife conducted ministry work outside of the church at a location in Hays County and Sweet accompanied her.
That ministry work involved Bible study, tutoring and general care for young children.
In a message to parishioners, Aaron Kahler, current Hays Hills pastor, said church leadership was informed in 2012 that Sweet had sexually abused a member of his family in the past.
Sources close to the family said Sweet’s son, David Sweet, who was the Hays Hills pastor at the time, made the initial outcry against his father to authorities, which then kickstarted an investigation by APD.
“We cooperated completely with their investigation and followed their counsel concerning how to notify the congregation,” Kahler said.
On Sept. 9, 2012, church leaders removed Sweet from membership and banned him from the church. No arrest was made at that time.
Sources close to the family said they confined Charles Sweet to his home since the 2012 investigation. Charles Sweet’s vehicle was sold and he was not allowed to travel outside of the home unless accompanied by his wife, usually for doctors’ appointments.
Family members were “shocked at the evil” and are supportive of “whatever justice is determined,” according to sources close to the family.
In his letter, Kahler said Sweet is expected to be charged with sexually abusing six girls, who are now all young women. Kahler said church leaders are not aware of any instances of sexual abuse that occurred at the church campus in Buda.
“Hays Hills Baptist Church will not tolerate abuse of any kind and ensuring the health and safety of our children and students is of paramount importance. At Hays Hills, all allegations of sexual abuse are reported to appropriate law enforcement and child protection authorities,” Kahler said.