MILLINGTON, Tenn. — A Millington man was arrested after he allegedly raped a little boy. Now, the boy's family is speaking out on his eighth birthday about why they're worried the courts aren't handling the situation correctly.
The boy's mother said she didn't know anything was wrong with her son's visit with family in Millington in June until authorities got in touch.
“It was like a bomb hit me," she said. "I’d never have known it.”
She lives in middle Tennessee. Her son visited relatives while on summer break.
“Until this situation, he was a really good dude," she said of Austin Fitzhugh. "I never saw him do anything. He was quiet. I never thought in a million years this would happen. I allowed him to go with him.”
She’s talking about Fitzhugh, 23, whom Millington Police have charged with rape of a child and sexual exploitation of a minor.
Police said they found pictures of the naked boy on Fitzhugh’s phone, and he admitted he performed sex acts with the boy, then 7.
“It hurts to say he's done something to my son," the boy's mother said. "It hurts to know he did it. Why did he do it? That’s my question, is why?"
She and her husband said they noticed her son being emotional recently, but it wasn’t until they asked him about what police said that he told them what happened. Ever since then, they said it’s been tough.
“He’ll break down," the mother said. "We bought him a bike for his birthday, and he broke down and cried and said, 'Thank you for loving me.' It hurt.”
They said they're concerned Fitzhugh was allowed to post bond, especially because they say other kids are living with him.
“Nobody should get a bond messing with a child," the boy's stepfather said.
WREG went to the home where Fitzhugh told police he’s staying, but before we could ask any questions, the person inside closed the door and wouldn’t come outside.
Fitzhugh is due back in court August 13.
Neighbors said Fitzhugh works in construction and that he’s generally quiet and keeps to himself.
Fitzhugh's attorney released the following statement to WREG: "Austin is 23 years old. But we have records that show he has a significant cognitive disability. On the date of his arrest, numerous law enforcement officials separated him from his family and peppered him with questions until they got the answers they wanted. Those who are crucifying Austin on social media need to step back and wait for the facts to come out."