A Wales man accused of shooting and killing another man while hunting two years ago is now facing several counts of child rape.

Christopher S. Austin, 43, was arrested Dec. 23 on eight counts of gross sexual assault, said Lt. Glenn Holt of the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office. All but one of the charges is a Class A felony, Holt said. The remaining charge is a Class B.

“His victim in these cases was under the age of 15 years old and as young as 8 years old,” Holt said.

Austin is being held at the Androscoggin County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail, Holt said.

Austin had been free on $5,000 cash bail since December 2012 when he made his first court appearance on a manslaughter charge in connection with the shooting death of 49-year-old Gerard N. Parent as both were hunting near Parent’s East Road home.

Holt said Austin’s arrest last week is the result of an ongoing sexual abuse investigation conducted by the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office. Additional charges are possible.

“We believe there are other victims out there and would like to hear from them,” Holt said.

Austin is charged with shooting and killing Parent around 4:20 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2012. The shooting occurred at twilight, just 13 minutes before the state-required end of the hunting day. The Maine Warden Service said shortly after the shooting that Austin and Parent were tracking the same deer in a sliver of woods between East Road and Route 126 in Wales. Both apparently fired at the deer.

Parent died of a gunshot wound to the upper chest, according to the state medical examiner’s office.

Wardens have said Austin shot twice, while Parent shot once.

Austin was indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury on charges of manslaughter and discharging a firearm near a dwelling. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. The case has not yet gone to trial as attorneys continue to argue pre-trial motions.

The indictment says Austin acted “recklessly or with criminal negligence” when he caused Parent’s death. Austin was hunting with a .308-caliber rifle within 100 yards of a building or residential dwelling, according to the indictment.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt, but indicates there is enough evidence to proceed with formal charges and a trial.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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