Ohio Chick-fil-A owner allegedly drove 400 miles for sex with minor he met online

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An Ohio Chick-fil-A owner was arrested after authorities say he traveled 400 miles to North Carolina and sexually abused a 15-year-old he met online. 

Stacy Lee Austin, 49, of Belmont reportedly broke into the family’s home in Salisbury, North Carolina, and allegedly molested the minor, according to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. 

Police said that Austin had made contact with the juvenile on social media and arranged to pick them up in the Tar Heel State for sex. 

Belmont is a small village about 110 miles east of Columbus, Ohio. Salisbury is approximately 416 miles to the south, located about 25 miles northeast of Charlotte, North Carolina. 

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On March 5, deputies responded to a 911 call from the teen’s father about a burglary in progress at a home in the southern part of Rowan County. 

Upon arrival, according to the sheriff’s office, the caller told deputies he had come home and found Austin inside with his teenage child. 

Deputies searched the home and found Austin’s underwear in the trashcan of a bathroom, along with some of the juvenile’s clothing, the sheriff’s office said. 

Investigators say that while the suspect was in the home, he performed sexual activities with the minor. 

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St. Clairsville, Ohio, Chick-fil-A

“When questioned about the incident, Austin admitted to the sexual acts and was concerned about losing his job as owner of a Chick-fil-A in Ohio,” authorities said in a news release.

Austin was charged with statutory sex offense with a child and placed in the Rowan County Detention Center, the sheriff’s office said. He is being held without bond. 

Austin was subsequently charged with Felony Solicit Child By Computer, according to online records. He is due in court on June 5. 

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The Chick-fil-A logo on a mobile phone with a red background

Solicitation of a child by computer to commit an unlawful sex act is a Class G felony in North Carolina if the defendant actually appears at the meeting location. The crime carries a maximum sentence of 47 months in prison. 

Austin has been a Chick-fil-A franchise owner in St. Clairsville, Ohio, since 2020, according to the Charlotte Observer. 

Chick-fil-A did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Chick-fil-A spokesperson told Queen City News, “We have a zero-tolerance policy for the type of serious conduct alleged. Stacy Austin is currently an independent franchise owner, but as the investigation and legal process continues, he will not be present in the restaurant.”

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