A former deacon at the Hays Hills Baptist Church was sentenced for improperly touching two young girls years ago to 10 years in prison Monday in a Travis County courtroom.
Charles Sweet, 85, must serve five years before he is eligible for parole, his attorney David Glickler told the Hays Free Press.
Although the case never went to trial, Sweet admitted in 2012 that he had also molested his granddaughter when she was young and as part of Monday’s proceedings the now 22-year-old read a victim’s impact statement, her father David Sweet said in comments issued to local media.
After that abuse came to light, Charles Sweet was removed from his position at the church and in fact “barred from attending any church .. basically put on family version of house arrest,” Glickler said. David Sweet said, in addition to that, the family sold his father’s car and did not allow him to leave the house alone. “He has largely been confined to home for the past seven years,” he said.
New allegations of abuse surfaced earlier this year and after an investigation by authorities in Travis and Hays counties, Charles Sweet was booked into and released from Hays County Jail on May 22. Glickler began representing him after that.
“They hired me to facilitate turning himself in,” Glickler said of the family, once they had learned there were warrants for Charles Sweet’s arrest.
Things happened quickly after that, in part because of the health of the accused. “We provided access to all of his medical records to the prosecutor in Hays County. After they looked at his medical records we reached this agreement.”
“Before our daughter came forward, we had no idea of this secret sickness or actions of Charles Sweet,” his son wrote. “Seven years ago we experienced what too many parents experience: a heart-stopping shock and sorrow.” David Sweet said his daughter’s
victim’s impact statement was “very strong and brave. The extent of what she suffered from the abuse was overwhelming.”
He went on to say that, “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 Sweet said that although the family reported their daughter’s abuse to police when they learned of it, the case came to a dead-end. “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 victim’s statement were adequate and my father planned to plead guilty,” David Sweet continued. “Apparently our decision on the physical exam was a reason for the police not to pursue charges. We placed my father in virtual house arrest, so we were at peace with the results. That was until we learned that there were other victims.”
Some of those other victims are in Hays County, where Charles Sweet faces more charges. Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau said those cases have yet to go before a grand jury.
Glickler said his client may not live long enough for those cases to come to justice. “He knows he hurt them and knows they deserve their day in court. He didn’t want to avoid justice by dying.”