Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 1, 2012

Sex assault suspect has been in trouble before


— TRAVERSE CITY — Brandon James Smith has been down this road before.

Smith, 26, is accused of molesting a young boy in an apartment building near the Grand Traverse County Civic Center on Oct. 25. He was arrested Wednesday and is expected to be arraigned today on charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13 and aggravated indecent exposure.

In 2008, Smith was convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for groping a teen girl at Target in Garfield Township. It’s not entirely surprising to see Smith in trouble again, authorities said.

“In the realm of sexual assaults, those who seek out strangers and touch them in a public area are highly likely to repeat that activity,” said Antrim County Prosecutor Charles Koop.

A boy, 8, said Smith followed him into his apartment building on Fair Street across from the Civic Center. Smith watched the boy play at the Civic Center, the boy said. Once in the apartment, Smith kissed the boy and touched him under his clothes, according to a police report. He also exposed himself to the boy.

A retired Michigan State Police trooper who handled the 2008 incident provided Smith’s name to investigators as a possible suspect. Smith’s grandparents also brought him in to meet investigators on Tuesday, but he wouldn’t admit assaulting the boy.

A photo lineup eventually was presented to the victim and he identified Smith, reports said. Authorities also searched Smith’s home in Alden on Wednesday and found items of clothing described by the victim, investigators said. He was arrested there without incident.

Smith in late 2008 pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree count and was sentenced to five months in jail.

Koop said it’s not unusual for someone convicted of a crime similar to Smith’s 2008 case to receive a short jail term and probation that focuses on treatment.

In June 2010 he was sent to prison after he violated probation by having verbal contact with two young girls, court records show. He was released from prison in November 2011.

It’s troubling that Smith’s time in prison and whatever treatment he may have received didn’t deter him from committing a similar act, police said.

“It doesn’t appear that his prior incarceration impacted his desire to commit this type of crime,” Traverse City Police Capt. Brian Heffner said.