Channel 3 News has uncovered more evidence that Michael Jacques has a long history of sex crimes-- and another victim. We are just learning about this part of Jacques' past because a legal loophole helped hide his record-- even from authorities. But Channel 3 News confirmed the information on the eve of Jacques' federal arraignment for the kidnapping and killing of his niece, Brooke Bennett, 12, of Braintree.
In July, a woman contacted Channel 3 News claiming she had been raped by Michael Jacques in Barre in 1987 when he was 20 and she was 13. She claimed he was arrested and convicted but she couldn't prove it because all public record of the case had disappeared and public officials refused to talk about it. Tuesday we finally confirmed her story.
"He got off. I don't think he got any jail time," said the woman, who asked to be identified only by the initial L.
L admits she remembers few details about how she claims Michael Jacques raped her in his family's apartment in Barre in 1987.
She remembers she lived down the street. She was 13. He was about 20 and he was a predator who lured many troubled girls to his apartment with alcohol and drugs.
"I don't recall any kind of physical aggression but I do remember me obviously saying no and not having any kind of say in the matter and him masterminding the whole thing, and you know, this is how it's going to be and this is the way it's going to go and you're just going to comply," she said.
Here's the timeline:
In 1985, Jacques is charged with impregnating a 13-year-old family member. The state drops the charge because the victim refused to testify.
Two years later, in 1987, he rapes the woman we call L. He pleads guilty to a lesser charge and gets a deferred sentence. All records are sealed and unavailable.
Then in 1992, Jacques was convicted of kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old girl in Rutland.
He completed sex offender treatment. He remained on the registry but got off probation ahead of schedule. His probation officer told the judge Jacques was fully rehabilitated and a model prisoner.
But that probation officer and the judge could not know that Jacques had been convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct with L because all record of his arrest and conviction for that crime has been sealed by law. It took us two months to find out why. This week, sources told us Jacques received a deferred sentence under a plea agreement. And by law, if an offender stays clean on a deferred sentence, all public record of the case are supposedly obliterated.
We do know that L wished her case had gone to trial so there might have been a record that could have been used to keep Jacques behind bars and save others.
"That maybe if he was punished the first time around when my case happened that maybe somebody would be not hurting, somebody's mother wouldn't be missing her daughter right now and you know somebody wouldn't be wondering why their baby isn't at home," she said.
L was ecstatic when we were able to confirm her story and the state has indicated the records have been found.
She also had a message for Michael Jacques: "I'm in control now and I'm not going to let you, you're not gonna, I'm not gonna shed any more tears over this anymore. It's not my fault. I didn't do this."
Key lawmakers have already indicated that one of their top priorities will be to enact a statute that would prohibit deferred sentences for sex offenders so that records of previous offenses will never be expunged.
The prosecutor in L's case has died so we may never know the exact reason the sentence for Jacques was deferred in 1987. But L herself told us that she believes she was tripped up when she was deposed by Jacques' attorney and the prosecutor decided she would not be a good witness.
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