District Judge Steve Ellis denied a defense motion Tuesday to reduce the bonds of Austin McAbee, the 17-year-old May teen who is jailed on multiple sex offenses.
Ellis ruled that McAbee’s bonds totaling $85,000 will remain and denied defense attorney Sam Darnall’s request to lower the bonds to $20,000 total.
McAbee has been jailed since September, when he was arrested on 10 counts of possession of child pornography.
The October session of the Brown County Grand Jury indicted McAbee on five counts of possession of child pornography, two counts of sexual assault, two counts of unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material and one count of sexual performance by a child.
McAbee’s mother, April, testified that family could not afford to make bonds totaling $85,000.
Sheriff’s investigator Leighton Wyatt, answering questions posed by First Assistant District Attorney Chris Brown, testified that there 99 images including video were found depicting three underage girls on McAbee’s phone.
The “primary victim” was described as McAbee’s former girlfriend, and there was concern about how it would impact the girl if McAbee could make bond and get out of jail.
McAbee seemed “boastful” when he told one of his parents, in a phone call from jail, how alarmed the girl seemed to be at McAbee’s presence in an earlier court hearing for a protective order, Wyatt testified.
Wyatt told how law enforcement became involved in the case involving McAbee.
McAbee was not happy about the breakup with his former girlfriend ending, and he threatened by text message to display images of the girl, Wyatt testified. McAbee then demanded that the girl take nude photos of girls in the locker room and send them to McAbee.
McAbee was not happy when he received an image of a clothed female, and McAbee sent that image to the girl who was depicted in the photo, Wyatt testified. That girl notified school authorities, who contacted the sheriff’s office.
Answering Brown’s question, Wyatt said he was concerned that McAbee’s “attitudes and behavior” would continue if he bonded out of jail.
“My client is 17 years olden would like to complete his education,” Darnall told Ellis.
Brown told Ellis that “this is a case of a 17-year-old who has fully reached his potential as a predator.” Brown said the “sheer predatory nature” of McAbee’s relationship with his then-girlfriend is “so disturbing it would be “incredibly harmful” if McAbee bonded out.
Brown argued that McAbee’s bonds are appropriately set at their current total of $85,000.
Ellis in denying the bond reductions said the safety of the community and victims is a concern.