Michael Jacques will be arraigned in federal court next week on charges of kidnapping with death resulting. He is Brooke Bennett's uncle and the last person seen with her alive.
WCAX News has learned that Jacques was first charged with a sex crime 23 years ago but it was dismissed. And, we have also learned that after a 1993 rape conviction, a judge released him from probation EARLY despite the strong objections of prosecutors.
At age 42, Michael Jacques is now facing the possibility of the death penalty if he is convicted of kidnapping and murdering his niece.
Court records released today show his sex crime history began in 1985 when he was 18, charged with having sex with a 15-year-old relative.
She told police he had sex with her at least 100 times starting when she was eight.
But she refused to testify against him, so the charge of lewd and lascivious conduct had to be dismissed.
Eight years later, Jacques was convicted of a kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old woman in Rutland.
Court records say she was gagged and handcuffed with a rope around her neck while he subjected her to depraved and humiliating sexual violence for four hours.
His sentence called for six years in prison to be followed by 14 years on probation into 2013.
But, after four years behind bars, he was released and then petitioned for early release from probation. He had the full support of his probation officer.
He and Jacques argued that Jacques was no longer a risk because he had graduated from sex offender treatment. He claimed he needed to be off probation to get an important job promotion that permitted overseas travel.
But prosecutors and the Corrections Department strenuously objected claiming Jacques was a violent offender with a high risk to re-offend.
In her November 2004 ruling, Judge Amy Davenport agreed that what the victim endured rivals the most brutal and terrifying scenes seen on television or in the movies.
Nevertheless, Judge Davenport did not agree that Jacques needed eight more years on probation.
She wrote that rehabilitation had been successfully accomplished.
She ruled that Jacques would be released from probation early, and he was, in December 2006-- seven years early.
So, from the records, we know this man has an extensive criminal sexual history. And even though he was off probation, he has been listed on Vermont Sex Offender Registry... open and easily available to anyone who may be concerned who their children might be hanging out with.
Corrections officials say the sex offender therapy program that Jacques completed in 2000 has been changed. For example, he was not subject to unannounced polygraph examinations. Today, offenders in the program are subject to unannounced polygraph testing. Corrections officials maintain they have confidence in the program despite the apparent failure in the Jacques case. Governor Douglas has ordered a complete review of the sex offender program and other Corrections programs to determine if change is needed.
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