Child Pornography Charges Filed Against California Legislator’s Assistant

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This week, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office released an official statement regarding the arrest of a legislative aide working under one of California’s assemblywomen. According to authorities, 28-year-old legislative assistant Brandon Bratcher allegedly has child pornography materials at his disposal. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan of Orinda, a Democrat Assemblywoman, turned out to be Bratcher’s congressional boss at work.

Upon learning of the news of his potential arrest, Bratcher voluntarily surrendered to the authorities and admitted to the charges of committing a single felony of child-porn possession. 

According to court records, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office formally filed one count of child pornography ownership charges on October 30 of this year. However, on Monday, the Sacramento County Jail let go of Bratcher later that same day.

When asked to comment on the matter, Bratcher’s lawyer remained silent. Nevertheless, his attorney Kristy Horton made her appearance on behalf of Bratcher’s trial on Wednesday afternoon. The court’s official Youtube channel broadcasted the prosecution live. According to court officials, they delayed Bratcher’s arraignment review and would resume on December 2. Due to Bratcher’s release from the Sacramento County Jail previously, the prosecutors asked for the bail evaluation. Horton learned of the news from Ken Brody, the Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner.

According to the court commissioner, suspects usually consent to an electronic search conducted by the police while awaiting trials, including staying away from children. Furthermore, Brody told Horton must mandate Bratcher to appear for his upcoming December trial.

Moreover, several prosecutors disagreed with Bratcher’s release from jail due to his recognizance. The previously mentioned detail got confirmed by Jacqueline Danes, a Deputy District Attorney.

On Thursday, Sheriff’s spokesman Sergeant Rodney Grassman told the news media of Bratcher’s voluntary surrender concerning the charges. According to Grassman, Bratcher turned himself into the Sacramento County Sheriff’s office after finding out that the police are issuing a warrant of his arrest on Monday. 

Grassman revealed that their police investigations on Bratcher started in February of this year. At that period, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC, received a tip from a “major social company” that an illegal photo got uploaded from an online account connected to Bratcher. For privacy and security purposes, Grassman did not disclose the social-media company’s name to the public. He also clarified that the number of illicit child-porn images Bratcher had in his possession nor details of the forbidden photo he posted online remained unknown. 

After reviewing the obtained information, the NCMEC forwarded the word to the Sacramento Valley High-Tech Crime Task Force to examine the evidence further. The latter group’s primary goal is to investigate cases involving children-related crimes spread online. Additionally, the task force comprises multiple varying law-enforcement firms working together to handle and resolve Internet criminal activities.

Based on Grassman’s statement, the task force managed to track the IP address to California’s legislative counsel’s office at the Capitol by requesting the social-media company that sent the tip to give them additional information about the suspicious online account. He said that the center’s database helped trace other online users connected to the illegal distribution of child pornography material all over the Internet. Additionally, the squadron also asked for details of the Internet service provider used by the suspect. In turn, Grassman mentioned that the sheriff’s office later passed the obtained knowledge to the California Highway Patrol, the task group known for its authority over the Capitol.

In response to the controversial issue, Bauer-Kahan’s office released its official statement on Thursday. According to them, they immediately placed Bratcher on administrative leave the moment they knew about his incident. Moreover, the office also expressed their surprise at the disturbing charges filed against the legislative subordinate.