Lancaster Township Man Convicted on Multiple Charges of Child Abuse

Robert AustinRobert Austin /Submitted Image

LANCASTER, PA — A Lancaster County jury found Robert Austin, 33, guilty on 17 counts related to the repeated rape and sexual abuse of two juveniles over a seven year period. The convictions, delivered Thursday afternoon, encompass a wide range of offenses, including rape of a child, statutory sexual assault, and possession of child pornography, among others. The abuses took place in various locations across Lancaster city between 2013 and 2020.

Assistant District Attorney Jessica Collo led the prosecution, emphasizing the prolonged suffering of the victims during her closing argument. She urged the jury to acknowledge the gravity of the victims’ testimonies, which detailed years of abuse at Austin’s hands. Collo’s plea to the jury was clear: a verdict of guilty would not only hold Austin accountable but also validate the experiences of the young survivors.

Despite the defense’s attempts to cast doubt on the consistency of the victims’ accounts, the jury, after approximately five hours of deliberation, returned a unanimous guilty verdict on all charges. This decision came as a significant moment of affirmation for the victims, who had bravely recounted the harrowing details of their abuse in court.

The investigation into Austin began following two suspected child abuse referrals from the Lancaster County Children and Youth Agency to the Lancaster City Bureau of Police on August 30, 2021. These referrals were made after one of the victims disclosed the abuse to a family member. Further inquiries by the Lancaster County Children’s Alliance and the Lancaster City Police Department confirmed the extent of Austin’s crimes, which began when one victim was about 6 years old and continued until they were 13, with the second victim suffering abuse from approximately age 8 to 13.

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Evidence presented during the trial included text messages sent by Austin to one of the victims after the abuse had been disclosed. In these messages, Austin seemed to seek forgiveness or understanding, questioning whether it was hard to believe people could change.

The case was pursued by Detective Jared Snader of the Lancaster City Bureau of Police, who also testified during the trial. With the guilty verdict rendered, President Judge Ashworth is expected to sentence Austin at a later date, concluding a case that has brought to light the disturbing reality of prolonged sexual abuse endured by the two juvenile victims.

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