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Fargo man charged for sexual conduct with 4-year-old

FARGO, N.D. (KVLY) A Fargo man is facing one count of felony Gross Sexual Imposition after allegedly inappropriately touching a 4-year-old girl.

Court documents say 22-year-old Austen Ernst touched the victim’s genitals and peed a white substance onto the girl.

During an interview, the victim told investigators that the events happened when her mom was not home and that both her and Ernst had their clothes off.

When asked if this had happened one time or more than one time, the victim told police ‘all the time.’

Documents say when Ernst was interviewed by police, he denied any inappropriate conduct.

Ernst did admit to masturbating while the victim was home, as well as in the bathroom where the victim’s clothing was, so it was possible his DNA could be on the victim’s clothing.

Police were unsuccessful in finding any DNA on the underwear or bedding of the victim. A sexual assault kit was done on the victim, but no semen was detected.

Court documents say Ernst refused a polygraph test.

We talked with the mother of the victim who gave us this statement:

“I’m in shock after seeing how low his bail was set. He stole my daughter‘s innocence and didn’t even sit 24 hours in jail before being bonded out and returning to work. I actually think my daughter spent more time in therapy since this happened than he did in jail. Our lives have been turned upside down and are now filled with appointments and court dates. My daughter and I will get through this, but I don’t know how someone could live with knowing they gained a little girl’s trust only to violate her to the extreme.”

Ernst is due back in court on August 14.