Man charged with raping child at popular metro Atlanta park on Mother’s Day

KENNESAW, Ga. — A Kennesaw man is facing charges that he sexually assaulted a child inside a public park on Mother’s Day.

Kennesaw police say Austin Stovall raped a juvenile at Swift-Cantrell Park on May 8.

Stovall has since been arrested and charged with rape, aggravated sexual battery, child molestation, false imprisonment, kidnapping and cruelty to children.

According to the arrest warrant, Stovall called the girl over to his car and said that he would “hurt her” if she didn’t follow him into the men’s restroom.

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After she did, Stovall stopped her from being able to leave the restroom and raped her, according to the warrant.

Families who Channel 2′s Michele Newell spoke with Friday said they were shocked to hear what happened.

“Makes me want to find who they are. Makes me have instant anger about it,” parent James Pitt said.

“It’s shocking, it’s scary. It would be my worse fear,” parent Megan Huber said.

Kennesaw Police Chief William Westenberger released a statement to the community saying nothing like this has ever happened at Swift-Cantrell Park.

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“First, my thoughts are with the victim and their family following this egregious incident. This is something that no juvenile should ever have to experience.

“To the Citizens of Kennesaw, this is the first incident like this to ever occur in Swift-Cantrell Park. We take our oath to protect and serve very seriously. The suspect was identified, apprehended, and will now be held accountable for his actions.

“I would like to thank our officers and detectives for their swift response, thorough investigation, and securing the arrest warrant within 24 hours. I would like to thank Cobb County Sheriff’s Office Fugitive Unit, U.S. Marshal’s Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, for their relentless pursuit and arrest of the suspect.

“I want you to know that your Kennesaw Police Department will remain vigilant and continue to keep our city, especially our parks, safe. Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership with our police department. Please continue to report suspicious activity and partner with us to make Kennesaw the best city to live and work in.”

“He is in custody. There’s no danger to the public now from him and we are increasing patrols this weekend,” said Sgt. David Buchanan with the Kennesaw Police Department. “We want to ensure that everyone feels safe and is safe.”

Parents told Newell that they have noticed the stepped-up patrols already.

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“I have noticed that there have been more police around the park,” parent Monica Jill said.

In 2019, Channel 2 reported that Stovall was arrested for impersonating a police officer.

Police say that during that incident Stovall didn’t have his pants on near Kennesaw State University and was pretending to be an officer.

Body camera footage from the jail showed Stovall with a mesh bag over his head threatening officers and claiming that he was an officer from DeKalb County.

“I’m going to [expletive deleted] you up bro. You’re scared. I know you are,” Stovall can be heard saying.

The DeKalb County Police Department confirmed that Stovall was not an officer.

After repeatedly threatening officers, he switched it up and told them he loved them.

“I love you guys. I love you. I love you. I love you. And I mean it,” Stovall said.

Stovall is being held in the Cobb County Detention Center while the investigation into the rape continues.

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