Brooke Bennett's uncle was arraigned on child sex assault charges today.
Police say they uncovered evidence linking Michael Jacques, 42, to a child sex ring while investigating Brooke's disappearance. But they say the charges are unrelated to Brooke's case.
Jacques is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl over several years. He was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a minor.
Jacques was the last person seen with missing 12-year-old Brooke Bennett. But police say at this time, he is not connected to his niece's disappearance.
Jacques is a registered sex offender. He was arrested and convicted of kidnapping and sexual assault in 1993. State records show he completed a sex offender treatment program before he was released from state supervision in 2006.
Vermont State Police are conducting a search outside of Jacques' home in Randolph Center. A search helicopter made laps around the East Bethel Road. K-9s have been on the ground searching a field and nearby woods for most of the morning. However, at this time we do not know if authorities are searching the property in connection with last night's arrest or in connection with Brooke Bennett's disappearance.
Bennett was last seen with Jacques and her cousin, leaving the Cumberland Farms convenience store in Randolph Wednesday morning. Police say they have received a few tips that Brooke was seen between 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. in the vicinity of the village laundry-mat and Dunkin Donuts. Police believe she was meeting up with someone she met on the social networking site MySpace. They are calling this quote "strictly a MySpace investigation."
Jacques will be arraigned on the charge of aggravated sexual assault in Orange County District Court this afternoon. Police plan to hold a press conference this afternoon to discuss the investigation.
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