JEFFERSONVILLE — A civil trial scheduled for next month involving Greater Clark County Schools, Michael Begin who was convicted of child molestation, and one of the child victims has been cancelled, after an agreement reached between the parties earlier this month.
The case, filed in February 2018, was the first of more than 10 civil cases initiated after Begin, 22, was arrested and later charged with child molestation. It was the longest running with a trial set for next month; confidential resolutions had been reached in the others.
Begin was charged with 27 counts of level 4 child molestation and in early 2019, Begin pleaded guilty to 20 counts related to 20 victims he had access to either through an early childhood development program with Greater Clark County Schools, where he was also a student, or through an after school program at the Clark County YMCA.
In April 2019, he was sentenced to 120 years in prison with 20 suspended.
When reached by phone, attorney Karl Truman, who represents the child, confirmed that the matter had been resolved with Greater Clark July 30. Online court records show that a settlement had previously been reached with the YMCA, who was an initial party in the case.
"My client is very happy to have closure so they can go on with their life," Truman said. "We are happy that we were able to hold the school accountable for their conduct and role in the child being molested at school."
Truman had previously argued on elements of the case in open court — that a teacher had sent Begin into the hallway to work alone with the child in this case, and that Begin's mother — a teacher — as well as another educator did not inform school administrators about allegations of molestation at the YMCA, which plaintiff's attorneys have said could have prevented further abuse in the GCCS setting.
An attorney representing the school corporation did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
In April, GCCS attorneys filed motions requesting that the trial and its transcript be closed to the public to protect the child's identity, stating that although both sides agreed to use her first name only, her full name could be easily found out by members of the public and shared.
“There’s nothing to prevent a member of the public sitting in this courtroom [and later] posting on social media,” Frost, Brown and Todd attorney Stephanie McGowan said during a hearing earlier this year in Clark County Circuit Court No. 1. "If the trial is public, then anyone could have access to the transcript. It is proper to close the courtroom.”
Attorneys for the school had argued the corporation had a duty to help protect the student's identity, and Truman had argued against the trial closure, saying the child's family believed that “the public needs to hear what happened.”
Judge Dan Moore ruled that the then-upcoming trial would remain open to the public, unless something changed that would necessitate it being closed.
Since the child is a minor, the settlement funds will be held by a guardianship through the court until she's 18 and can be used only for things that will be for her.
"Im happy that the child's future is going to be secure financially," Truman said. "She'll be able to get the help that she needs down the road."
Most of the civil cases have have been filed between 2018 and 2019, with the most recent filed this March. That case, also one of Truman's, is heading toward final resolution as well.