Jury hears testimony in Bracke case
by Tom Chillemi
An alleged young victim of sexual abuse testified Tuesday that Arthur R. Bracke, a former child abuse investigator with the Middlesex Department of Social Services, touched him in his private areas, and he bent Bracke’s hand back to try to stop him.
Bracke, 62, is on trial in Middlesex Circuit Court. He is charged with six sex-related felonies against an 11-year-old that allegedly occurred in November, 2007. Bracke’s jury trial started Tuesday, August 5, and continued into Wednesday.
During questioning by Middlesex Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Hurd, the boy’s mother testified on Tuesday her son had met Bracke at a beach in the Wake area when Bracke was there with another boy who he referred to as “his grandson.” The two boys played together at the beach, she said.
The mother knew Bracke, having been a foster mother under his supervision for about a year in 1999.
The mother testified that Bracke invited her son over to his house and as the relationship grew between Bracke and the boy, Bracke would stop by the boy’s house and pick him up after school.
Bracke wanted to be her son’s “honorary grandfather,” the mother said.
The mother said she was “kind of leery” of the request, but agreed to let her son continue going to Bracke’s house because her son was “having so much fun with him.”
The boy’s father lives in another state and “does not have anything to do” with his child, the mother testified. She indicated she trusted Bracke because he had worked with her older son and a niece and was a neighbor, living only about a mile away.
Bracke also took the boy shopping and bought gifts for him, some of which were entered as evidence in court Tuesday.
The mother testified that Bracke asked her if her son was going through puberty and if he had hair.
The mother said Bracke’s question made her feel guilty because she had seen her son naked while he was changing his clothes. She added that she knew Bracke was a social worker with experience investigating child abuse. “It made me feel like a bad parent,” she said.
Spending the night
The mother testified Bracke first mentioned having the boy spend the night by telling the mother that he would babysit the boy if she wanted to go out.
The mother said her son wanted to spend the night, but would change his mind while at Bracke’s house and would call to have her come get him in the evening.
On one occasion, the mother came to Bracke’s house and both Bracke and her son were “really sweaty,” she said. When she brought this up to her son, she said he told her, “We’re just wrestling. It’s a guy thing, leave it alone.”
At that time her son, who is very particular about his underwear, was wearing a pair of Bracke’s boxer underwear, testified the mother. She said that was “very abnormal” for her son, who did not want anyone to see his underwear.
The mother testified Bracke would become “agitated” when she came early to pick up her son, after he had planned to spend the night.
The boy had tried to stay with Bracke the night of November 3, but again went home.
Bracke was agitated again when the boy called his mother two or three times when he spent the night with Bracke on November 4, testified the mother.
When she went to check on her son at Bracke’s house, “Mr. Bracke acted like he wanted me out of the house.”
She quoted Bracke as saying, “Go, go go, I’ll watch him.”
The mother said she saw her son on Bracke’s bed that night. When she found out her son was actually going to sleep in Bracke’s bed, Bracke told her he (Bracke) would sleep in the reclining chair in the bedroom to be there in case her son got “scared” during the night.
Bracke’s adopted 20-year-old son Joshua also lived at the house. Joshua’s bed had a top bunk; however, the bunk was full of stuff, the mother testified, and the bottom bed was a double and big enough for two people.
The boy testified that on the night of November 4 he asked to sleep on the top bunk of Joshua’s bed. Bracke, however, told him “no” because there was stuff on the bunk, said the boy.
The boy testified he and Bracke had wrestled on Bracke’s bed that night, and Bracke was wearing only boxer shorts and the boy was in his pajamas.
“He started to touch me in his bed and I told him to stop it, and he wouldn’t. So I bent his arm back to warn him to stop, and he stopped [at that time],” said the boy.
However, the boy testified, “He kept touching me in my private areas” by placing his hand under the boy’s clothes.
Hurd asked the boy to demonstrate for the jury how Bracke put his hand down the front of the boy’s pants. “He kept rubbing me there and I told him to stop and he didn’t,” said the boy as he demonstrated the act.
The boy also demonstrated how he bent Bracke’s wrist back to make him stop.
The boy testified Bracke also touched the boy’s behind and got his fingers inside the boy’s pants while on the bed, but did not touch his privates at that time, and the boy bent his arm back again.
The boy said he moved to the recliner to get away from Bracke. “He got in the bed with me and I moved to the recliner,” he testified. Bracke then moved to the recliner and the boy moved back to the bed, said the boy. “He just kept on following me.”
The boy said at one point Bracke tried to rub his private area outside his clothing, but there was no actual touching.
The boy said he fell asleep on Bracke’s bed and Bracke was in the recliner.
The next morning (November 5), the boy said there were 12 empty beer cans on the night stand.
The boy said Bracke touched his private parts again about dawn on November 5.
On cross-examination by Bracke’s attorney, Joey Caprio, the boy said he went to Bracke’s house after the touching incident. “I came back to see if it (the touching) was a mistake, and it wasn’t.”
The boy said he told Bracke that his mother thought the touching was “S.E.X.,” which he spelled out. (He did not pronounce the word “sex.”)
Bracke’s adopted son, Joshua Bracke, told Caprio he told the boy to sleep in his bed on the night of November 4. “I told him not to go into Art’s room,” said Joshua.
Joshua testified that he came home that night and the boy was asleep in his underwear in Art Bracke’s recliner, and Art Bracke was asleep in his bed.
During the trial, the mother testified her son’s bipolar condition is controlled by medication, but he was having problems with his medication being ineffective—an indication that something was bothering him and that he was upset. The period of unrest lasted from September to early November, she said.
Bracke’s house at Wake was destroyed by fire on November 17, 2007. After the fire, the mother said she asked her son if anything had happened at Bracke’s house, and her son admitted that Bracke had touched his private areas.
Hurd completed his case on Wednesday, August 6, and the defense presented its case.
Bracke took the stand in his own defense on August 6 and denied the charges against him. Details were not available at press time. A full account of Bracke’s testimony will be in next week’s Sentinel.
Bracke’s second sex-related trial involving the boy he allegedly referred to as his “grandson” has not been set.
Bracke also is charged with arson and attempted first degree murder for allegedly setting the house where he was living on fire on November 17, 2007. Joshua Bracke was asleep inside the house when the fire occurred. That bench trial is set for September 3 at 1 p.m.