Thursday, June 25, 2009

Remembering Brooke Bennett

~Brooke Bennett

One year ago today, the pretty, Vermont 12-year-old disappeared. We would come to find out she was drugged, raped, and strangled allegedly by her uncle.

Brooke was last seen alive on a surveillance video from a Cumberland Farms store in the company of her uncle, Michael Jacques.

As investigators desperately searched for Brooke, a bizarre and horrific story began to emerge and would forever change the small town of Randolph.

The players in the real life drama are tightly intertwined family members:

Cassandra Gagnon – Brooke’s mother, whose ex-husband is Richard Gagnon. Cassandra has recently changed her name to Adams, her maiden name.

Denise Jacques – Cassandra’s sister and wife of Michael Jacques. Denise has changed her name back to Woodward.

Richard Gagnon and Michael Jacques – Brooke’s ex-stepfather and uncle, respectively. Prosecutors claim there is a “nexus between investigations into the alleged obstruction of justice by Gagnon and the alleged kidnapping by Jacques.”

The State of Vermont turns the cases over to Federal prosecutors.

Gagnon is arrested on a charge of aggravated sexual assault on a minor and obstruction of justice for apparently assisting Jacques in fabricating information regarding the abduction of Brooke. Additionally he has been charged with the production and distribution of child pornography. He pleaded guilty to pornography charges in federal court in San Antonio on April 13, 2009.

February 26, 2009, the Vermont Legislature passed one of the toughest sex-offender bills in the country by a 29-0 vote in the Senate and 132-2 in the House.

In 1985, Jacques was charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor after allegedly engaging in more than 100 sex acts with an underage family relative whom he eventually impregnated. The case was dismissed.

In 1992, he was charged and convicted of abducting and raping an 18-year-old West Rutland woman. Police reports indicated he tied a rope around her neck, threatened to kill her and forced her to perform sex acts on him for several hours.

Jacques is currently being held at a federal penitentiary in Ayer, MA.

While Brooke’s family and the Randolph area are growing impatient with the slow pace of Jacques’ prosecution, prosecutors are awaiting a decision from Attorney General Eric Holder on whether they can seek the death penalty for Jacques.

Please take a moment to think of Brooke today – she deserves to be remembered.

Burlington Free Press


Sprocket said...

Thank you for reminding all of us about Brooke on the anniversary of her violent death.

ritanita said...

It's been a long, long year. Thank you for keeping her name alive as we await the trial.

cherylt said...

Yes,thank you for reminding us. Is there even a trial date set for that POS? Since stepdad pled guilty do we know how much time he was given?

That poor girl - I remembered wishing so hard she would be found alive... So sad. I hope she is resting in peace....