A child and a bear
Michael Begin Jr allegedly molested at least 17 children while working as an elementary school teacher in Indiana - Representative image iStock

Indiana police brought more charges against an 18-year-old man who allegedly molested at least 17 children aged between three and seven while he was working as a teaching assistant at the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) elementary school and at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.

Michael Begin Jr allegedly committed the heinous crimes between January and October 2017. He was arrested on 18 October 2017 but let out on a bail.

Begin Jr was initially charged with two counts of child molestation, but on Friday, 26 January, additional 20 charges were brought against him after more victims came forward with complaints of sex abuse.

Begin Jr is now facing a total of 24 counts of child molestation, Chicago Tribune reported, noting that he had previously pleaded not guilty to the two initial charges.

"It's possible there are other victims that we're not aware of yet," prosecutor Jeremy Mull said during the hearing.

The accused first came into the notice of authorities in September 2017 when police received a complaint regarding alleged abuse of a five-year-old at the YMCA in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The girl had reportedly told her mother that Begin "wouldn't stop putting his hand down her pants while they were on the playground outside".

Steve Tarver, president and CEO of YMCA, Greater Louisville, said that Begin was suspended "as soon as the allegations emerged" and fired "once the investigation began". However, it was not clear when exactly the actions were taken.

A month later in October last year, reports claiming alleged molestation of two first-graders emerged at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. The two six-year-olds said that Begin touched them under their clothes during the school hour. A surveillance video also confirmed the children's account following which, he was arrested.

More accounts of his abuse emerged after news spread of his arrest. Following his arrest, he reportedly told police he was sorry about what happened. "He also said he wasn't sure why it happened, and believed it was an error in judgment," court records cited him as saying.

He was later released from jail after paying a $10,000 (£7077) cash bond and was placed on electronic monitoring, the Daily Mail reported.

Begin is scheduled to appear in court on Monday (29 January) to face the fresh charges.