AP NEWS

Mother’s complaints lead to felony charges against tween-groping suspect

May 8, 2019

A man accused of groping two 12-year-old girls at a downtown Raleigh event faces felony charges after the mother of one of the girls complained to authorities.

Christopher Paul Baumgarden, 39, of Apex, was initially charged with two counts of sexual battery, which is a misdemeanor, and was released on $10,000 bond.

The mother of one of the girls was incensed, saying his actions warranted more than misdemeanors. She said she was buying T-shirts at the Out! Raleigh event, a fundraiser for the LGBT Center of Raleigh, on Saturday evening when Baumgarden approached her daughter and the girl’s friend on Fayetteville Street and started groping the friend.

″[He] just touched her chest and said, ‘I like that,’ and I said, ‘Don’t touch her. She’s just 12 years old. Keep your hands off of her,‘” the woman, who didn’t want to be named to protect the girls’ identities, said Tuesday.

“I turned around to get the shirt from the lady, and he embraced [the girl] in a hug,” the woman said. “When I turned around, her arms were out and her eyes were wide.”

The woman said Baumgarden also took off his shirt and touched her daughter’s breast.

“I pulled out my Taser, and I went after him,” the woman said. “I kept telling him to walk away, walk away. There were some people across the way yelling, ‘They’re 12! They’re 12! Get out of here!’”

Out! Raleigh staff alerted police, who arrested Baumgarden and charged him with the two misdemeanors. When she learned of the charges, the woman said she called the police and the Wake County District Attorney’s Office to say the charges were too light.

“You touched and made inappropriate comments to two 12-year-olds, and you’re able to walk away?” she said. “Not with me on their side. I was fighting for them. I was not going to let that happen.”

Assistant District Attorney Katie Pomeroy said Tuesday afternoon that the charges against Baumgarden had been upgraded to two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, which are felony offenses. He remains free on bond.