Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office
Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office
A Cherokee County man with a lengthy criminal history was arrested on multiple charges Wednesday after he was accused of forcing a young girl into a bathroom at a popular Kennesaw park and raping her.
Austin Stovall, 33, of Woodstock, was arrested several days after the alleged assault Sunday at Swift-Cantrell Park, which involved a girl under the age of 16, according to a Cobb County arrest warrant. He was booked into the Cobb Adult Detention Center, where he remains without bond.
Stovall is facing charges of rape, aggravated sexual battery, child molestation, false imprisonment, kidnapping and first-degree cruelty to children, Kennesaw police said.
According to the warrant, Stovall called the girl over to his car and threatened to “hurt her” if she did not follow him to the men’s restroom at the park. Once inside, Stovall allegedly forced her into a corner and raped her, the warrant said. The victim’s age was not disclosed.
In a statement released Friday, Kennesaw police Chief William Westenberger offered his condolences to the girl’s family and described the alleged crime as an isolated incident.
“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,” Westenberger said. “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.”
Public records show that Stovall’s criminal history spans most of his adulthood and includes multiple convictions that led to prison time.
In 2009, he was arrested as a teenager on 17 counts of entering auto in Cherokee County, online court records show. He pleaded guilty on all counts and served about five months in state prison, according to public records kept by the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Since then, he has pleaded guilty to criminal trespassing, fighting, drug possession and multiple traffic offenses, Cherokee court records show.
In 2019, Stovall was arrested in an unusual incident that led to charges of impersonating an officer and making terroristic threats, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.
According to an incident report filed by Kennesaw police in 2019, Stovall was found passed out in the driver’s seat of an idling Chevrolet Tahoe one Saturday night in April. When the officer woke Stovall up, he seemed disoriented and was not wearing any pants. The officer smelled marijuana coming from the SUV, so he pulled Stovall from the car and detained him in handcuffs.
The officer searched the Tahoe and found a bottle of testosterone and a small amount of marijuana, the report said. Stovall was arrested and taken to the Acworth city jail, and the officer said he became increasingly “aggressive and belligerent.” On the way to the jail, Stovall threatened to kill the arresting officer and claimed to be a member of both the Bloods and Crips, the famously rival street gangs, the report said.
Once at the jail, Stovall attempted to elbow an officer and claimed to be a DeKalb County police officer, according to the incident report. Cobb dispatchers checked his claim and found he was not employed by DeKalb police.
Stovall pleaded guilty to impersonating an officer and obstruction and was sentenced to two years behind bars, Cobb court records show.
In July 2021, Stovall was again arrested in Cherokee and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, obstruction and other offenses, according to online records.
Henri Hollis is a reporter for the breaking news team. Formerly a freelance writer and photographer working with the food and dining section, he began covering breaking news full-time in January 2021. He is a lifelong Atlantan and a graduate of Georgia Tech.