Man charged with child molestation after victims come forward 15 years later

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UPDATE (May 30, 2019)-- Benjamen Chastain was sentenced to 40 years in jail, with 30 years to be executed and 10 years suspended.

Original story:

ORANGE COUNTY, Ind. (March 3, 2016) -- A case of child molestation is being prosecuted 15 years later, after two victims came forward to speak out about their alleged abuse.

Orange County authorities arrested Benjamen Chastain, 40, charging him with three felony counts of child molesting stemming from 2000 and 2001.

Two women, now 19 and 25 years old, went to police in December to say they had been molested by Chastain as children.

In court paperwork provided by the Times-Mail, one woman said that when she was 10 and spending the night at Chastain's house, his pregnant wife left the room and he "touched her ... underneath her panties." The woman told detectives she had been molested before and "the first time she had told, no one believed her," so she never said anything.

The other woman, who said she was abused at five and six years old, said she "was scared of Ben and that he had threatened her that if she ever told he would hurt her."

"We encourage people that it’s never too late to get help, it’s never too late to get support," Sandy Runkle with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana said.

FOX59 wanted to know how Chastain is able to face charges for cases more than a decade old. Under the law, which was updated in 2013, certain exceptions exist that allow for prosecutors to more easily present child molestation cases decades later.

One part of the law, for instance, allows for charges as long as the victim is still under 31 years old. Another part of the law allows for charges with no time limit, so long as the prosecutor can prove the victim was threatened or the suspect tried to cover it up.

"It’s not happening every day but certainly it does happen. People do eventually make that decision to talk about a very personal, very tragic, very traumatizing event sometimes much later in life," said Kim Rasheed with the Marion County Child Advocacy Center.

Rasheed said that while it can be easier now to press charges, it remains difficult to see those charges through in some cases.

"There is little or no evidence left after all of these years and really it comes down to the statements made by the individuals that have either witnessed or been victims to the crimes that have happened," Rasheed said.

Chastain posted bond and was released from jail. Court paperwork indicated that police are also investigating a possible third victim who is under the age of 18.

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