Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

July 15, 2007

Man sentenced to 230 years for molesting child

Mother denied child’s outcry, other family member called CPS

An Alvarado man was sentenced to 230 years in prison and $60,000 in fines Thursday for sexually assaulting a young girl he knew.

Darrin Michael Austad, 42, was found guilty last week on two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and four counts of indecency with a child by a jury in William C. Bosworth’s 413th District Court.

“We’re very happy with the jury’s verdict,” Assistant District Attorney Martin Strahan said. “This is another example of how the DA’s office, under Dale Hanna, and the Johnson County juries will not tolerate people who hurt children.”

Austad’s attorney, Patrick Barkman of Cleburne, declined to address the particulars of the case but said, “We always have to have faith in the jury system.”

Austad received 75 years and a $10,000 fine for each of the two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and 20 years and a $10,000 fine for each of the four counts of indecency with a child. He will be eligible for parole in 30 years, Strahan said.

“I’m very pleased with the work Martin and Larry [Chambless, co-prosecutor] did,” District Attorney Dale Hanna said. “Johnson County has a staff of lawyers they can really be proud of.”

The victim testified about when the assault began. He started touching her inappropriately when she was 7, Strahan said.

She told her mother about the assault, but her mother denied it and did nothing to help her, he said.

The turning point came when the victim moved in with a family member in April 2005, after Austad hit her during a fight, Strahan said.

Austad apparently used drugs when the incidents occurred.

The family member she moved in with testified that the victim told her about the sexual assault four days after she moved in. She immediately called Child Protective Services, and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office became involved, Strahan said.

Austad denied the assault and the drug use. Prosecutors used testimonies from Tammy King, executive director of the Johnson County Children’s Advocacy Center, the child’s therapist and medical records from Cook Children’s Medical Center verified the assault, Strahan said.

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