Death penalty possible in Vermont sex-kidnap

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Death penalty possible in Vermont sex-kidnap

Post  Jennie on Sun Jul 06, 2008 10:40 pm

Federal prosecutors have filed kidnapping charges that carry the death penalty against a Vermont man whose 12-year-old niece was found dead near his home.

Authorities accused Michael Jacques, 42, of carefully orchestrating events and e-mails to make it appear that Brooke Bennett had gone on June 25 to see someone she had met online, according to an affidavit accompanying the charges.

Citing statements from another underage girl, prosecutors claim that Jacques tricked Brooke into thinking she was going to a party and instead took her to his home to initiate her into a child sex ring.

Michael Desautels, the federal public defender representing Jacques, did not return calls Thursday morning.

E-mails quoted in an affidavit released Thursday accuse Jacques of coercing or enlisting the second girl to participate.

The girl wrote, "yes. I will help,'' one e-mail said.

Jacques is charged under a federal law that provides for the death penalty in a kidnapping resulting in a child's death. Jacques has 1993 convictions for kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault.

With autopsy results still pending, prosecutors said they could not say that Brooke was murdered. If she was, U.S. Attorney Tom Anderson was asked if he would seek the death penalty.

"That determination would be made after the investigation is completed, after the case is presented to a grand jury and, ultimately, that decision is made by the attorney general of the United States of America,'' Anderson said.

Meantime, state charges alleging that Jacques sexually assaulted a different girl over a 5-year period were dropped, but could be refiled.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said there is plenty of work ahead "both in terms of investigation and prosecution.''

In the affidavits, authorities accused Jacques of making a MySpace posting, purportedly from Brooke, indicating that she planned a rendezvous on June 25 with someone she had met online.

He also is charged with planting evidence, including some of Brooke's clothing and a plastic bag containing semen, to make it appear someone else had abducted the girl.

Brooke, who had just finished 7th grade at Randolph Union High School, disappeared on June 25 after being seen at a convenience store with Jacques.

After searching in and around his home across town for days, police said they found the girl's body in a spot where the earth had been disturbed.


Death penalty possible in Vermont sex-kidnap

In Burlington, prosecutors say the Vermont man charged with kidnapping his 12-year-old niece — who was found dead near his home — could face the death penalty.

State and federal prosecutors spoke in Burlington on Thursday as 42-year-old Michael Jacques (pronounced Jakes) was formally charged with kidnapping Brooke Bennett. Bennett was missing for a week before her body was found Wednesday evening in Randolph.

Authorities cannot even say yet whether the girl was murdered. But the federal charges against Jacques provide for the death penalty in kidnappings resulting in a child’s death.

In court papers, authorities accused Jacques of carefully orchestrating events and e-mails to make it look like Bennett had gone to see someone she had met online.

(source: Associated Press)

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