Monday, February 23, 2009

Brooke Bennett’s Stepfather Seeking Deal

~Brooke Bennett

Facing federal child pornography charges in both Texas and Alabama, Raymond Gagnon’s attorneys have filed a request in the San Antonio U.S. District Court to delay the March 2 trial while a plea deal is under discussion. The federal judge in the case has agreed to delay the trial until April 20.

Gagnon arrived in Vermont in late June after being told by Michael Jacques, Brooke’s uncle, that Brooke was missing. Jacques spoke with Gagnon by telephone several times the night Brooke reported missing.

Gagnon was subsequently arrested in Vermont on charges that he and Michael Jacques had engaged in a simultaneous sex act with a minor in 2007 in South Royalton, Vermont.

The State later dropped those charges when Gagnon was charged by federal prosecutors with obstruction of justice after it was learned Gagnon called a friend in San Antonio and asked him to get rid of a computer that contained a collection of child pornography. Despite a massive search, investigators never recovered the computer.

Acting on a tip, investigators also went to a Cullman, Alabama home owned by Gagnon, and found child pornography stored on two computers.

In October, another indictment that contained new charges against Gagnon was unsealed in San Antonio. The charges are that Gagnon engaged in, produced and transported child pornography between 2003 and 2007.

Young Brooke went missing June 25, 2008. Her body was found July 2 buried in the woods about a mile from the home of her uncle Michael Jacques.

Michael Jacques faces federal charges in Vermont for kidnapping, drugging, raping, and strangling Brooke after he brought her to his home. Investigators found evidence which indicates Jacques began planning Brooke’s kidnapping in May and by accessing her My Space account, made it look like she had run away with someone she had met online.

The national outcry in the wake of Brooke’s murder and the fact that Jacques had previously been jailed as a sex offender, but was released early, Vermont has recently passed stronger sex-offender legislation.

Burlington Free Press

Boston Herald