AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Police Department is requesting any parent who had their child enrolled in Reggio Emilia Multilingual Preschool Academy from October 2016 – December 2020 to contact the police if they have any information about suspected physical or sexual abuse of children.
The request comes after police arrested 20-year-old Steven Ahlberg on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Ahlberg was an employee of Reggio Emilia Multilingual Preschool Academy located at 5710 McCarty Lane Austin, TX 78749.
Steven Ahlberg (Austin Police Department)
On November 19, 2020, an 8-year-old child told her family that she had been sexually abused at her old daycare by "Mr. Steven". The victim stated that the sexual abuse happened on multiple occasions. All of the abuse happened between November 2017 and October 2018 when the victim was only 5-years-old.
The investigation revealed that the victim was enrolled in Reggio Emilia Multilingual Preschool Academy during the specified time frame. Multiple sources confirmed that the only person a child at the daycare would know as "Mr. Steven" would be Ahlberg.
As a result of the investigation, the Department of Family Protective Services, Child Care Investigations barred Ahlberg from having any access to the school or its children starting on December 4, 2020. Ahlberg agreed to a plan that prohibited him from having contact with and caring for children who attend or have attended Reggio Emilia. The same plan prohibited Ahlberg from entering the premises of Reggio Emilia.
At this time, no other victims have come forward. APD understands that some parents will want to start conversations with their children as a result of this information.
If parents decide to start those conversations, APD recommends that they start as broad conversations about body safety. A parent might ask, for example, "Do you know what parts of your body should stay private? If anybody ever did something that made you worried about those parts, you could talk to me. You wouldn’t be in any trouble." Police say it would not be appropriate to single out Ahlberg or any other employee of the school in a direct question to a child. If the child brings a specific person up of their own accord, then the parent could follow up on that.
APD Child Abuse Detective Lambert #6115 is investigating this case. Anyone that has information about the physical or sexual abuse of children that result from these inquiries can contact APD’s Child Abuse Unit at 512-974-6880. If they would like to speak to a Victim Services counselor, please call 512-974-5037.