ONSLOW COUNTY -

A Marine veteran is facing almost two dozen charges because deputies say he committed sex crimes against three children between 8 and 12 years old.

Kirk D. MacLeod, 39, of Jacksonville, made his first court appearance Thursday morning. His bond has been set at $1.6 million.

Warrants allege that MacLeod molested three girls, between 8 and 12 years old. The suspect made one of the girls perform a sex act on him as well, according to the warrants.

The sexual abuse happened during his daughter's sleepovers at his home from Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2013, investigators said.

NewsChannel 12 spoke with the mother of one of the alleged victims. She said MacLeod was a family friend.

"You really don't know people. They're not who they seem," the mother of the child said. "If anything, follow your gut instinct and ask questions to your children every day."

The mother said her daughter came home one day and said she had been touched inappropriately. That was when the mother went to the Onslow County Sheriff's Office.

NewsChannel 12 also spoke with a neighbor who said she knew all three of the alleged victims. One of them used to frequently play with her own daughter in the neighborhood, until the alleged incidents happened.

"She will not come play with my child because she says every time, she has to look at that house and knows what happened to her, and it's scary," the neighbor said. "I'll make it so bad for [the suspect] if he ever comes back to this house. He will not live on this street again. He won't. Lord won't let it happen."

Deputies told NewsChannel 12 that once MacLeod heard he was being investigated, he fled to Syracuse, N.Y. Authorities brought him back to Onslow County on Wednesday.

MacLeod has been charged with the following:

-Two counts of first-degree sex offense with a child;
-Two counts of felony child abuse - sexual act;
-Two counts of crime against nature;
-Seven counts of indecent liberties with a child;
-Five counts of sexual battery;
-Five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.

The investigation is ongoing, according to the Sheriff's Office. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Onslow County Sheriff's Office at 910-455-3113.

MacLeod's next court appearance is scheduled for April 3.

Officials said MacLeod was in the Marine Corps from July 1996 to February 2007. His rank was sergeant when he left the Corps.