Austell Police Officer Arrested, Accused of Child Molestation
Austell police officer Matthew Darren Atkins, 55, was arrested this week and accused of molesting a 7-year-old girl. Atkins, a Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified police officer who worked for the city of Austell since 2017, is charged with three counts of child molestation and one count of violation of oath by a public officer. He was being held without bail as of Thursday.
The arrest warrant alleges that in February and earlier this month, Atkins touched the girl inappropriately on several occasions and forced her to touch him. He also allegedly masturbated in front of the child. The warrant states that at least three acts of child molestation were committed by Atkins on the child.
Prior to Austell, Atkins worked for the police departments in both Powder Springs and Douglasville according to POST records. He has been employed with the Austell department since February 2017 and was promoted to the position of sergeant in December 2018.
This is not Atkins’ first run in with the law. In 2014, he was allowed to resign from his Douglasville police sergeant position “in lieu of termination” after being accused of using his work computer to purchase illegal steroids. POST placed him on probation and ordered him to undergo random drug screening tests.
A common concern in our communities is the ability of law enforcement officers to obtain new positions in different communities after being accused of wrongdoing in another. In this case, did Austell know of Atkins’ past prior to hiring him? Given his position with these various police departments, the community hopes that each police department will do their own investigation to ensure that there are no other impacted children or alleged victims in these communities.