brandon_james_hunter

Brandon James Hunter

A Prineville man is in custody on suspicion of sexually abusing a young family member after educators raised concern for the 7-year-old child.

Brandon James Hunter, 22, was arrested in April and charged with felony sexual abuse involving a child victim between January and April 2019.

Documents released this month in Crook County Circuit Court show he was recently charged with more counts for allegedly video recording the alleged encounters with the young relative, who has cognitive and communication disorders.

Hunter remains in custody in the Crook County jail with two pending open cases involving the same girl.

On April 16, a teacher at a Prineville elementary school called police. She told them a teacher’s assistant had been working one-on-one with the 7-year-old when the girl asked the assistant to rub her leg.

She reportedly told the assistant this was how Hunter touched her. She said she has trouble sleeping because he regularly wakes her, and they used to share a bed, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.

The teacher told police she’d observed the relationship between Hunter and the girl during the previous school year and it did not appear appropriate.

“Something was not right,” wrote Crook Sgt. Jacob Childers in a court document.

Hunter was arrested several days later, and he denied the touching was sexual.

The child was interviewed. She was “talkative and forthcoming” in the conversation until she was asked about her relationship with Hunter, Childers wrote.

“She would look away or down, and either not respond or respond with an answer indicating she did not know or could not remember,” Childers said in his report.

Police concluded the girl’s demeanor was consistent with a child experiencing manipulation related to abuse or neglect.

“Children who have been sexually victimized by relatives and others whom they love and care about are manipulated and instructed not to discuss the actions of the perpetrator due to threats,” Childers wrote.

The state has filed motions to call more than 10 witnesses against Hunter, and to include evidence from two prior court cases to show he acted “with a sexual purpose” when he touched the 7-year-old.

In the first prior case, Hunter was convicted in the juvenile justice system of the crime of attempted indecent liberties for touching a 3-year-old child.

In the other, he was convicted of harassment in 2018 for touching an 11-year-old girl as she slept.

On Nov. 11, a judge approved a police request to search Hunter’s digital devices for photos.

Police also seized a pair of aqua, blue and gray snow boots belonging to the girl.

No trial dates have been set. Hunter faces seven felony charges across two cases — first-degree sodomy, using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, encouraging child sex abuse, two counts of first-degree child sex abuse and two counts of first-degree invasion of privacy.

Reporter: 541-383-0325,

gandrews@bendbulletin.com

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