An investigation by Prince George’s County police has discovered that Michael Brochu of Bowie — incarcerated Aug. 28 on multiple child sex offense charges — previously was convicted in other cases of child sexual abuse in Maryland.
Howard County police confirmed to The Gazette that Brochu of the 3900 block of Croydon Lane, who is facing multiple charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of four children in the Bowie area, was convicted of similar charges in the 1980s in Howard County.
With the discovery, the Prince George’s County state’s attorney office filed a motion in District Court on Aug. 21 for a new hearing on Brochu’s bail, said John Erzen, a spokesman for the county state’s attorney office. Brochu most recently was re-arrested Tuesday after county police learned of a new alleged victim. The latest accuser makes a total of four children who say Brochu, 52, sexually abused them.
“There are no comments. Thank you,” Brochu said Aug. 23 when reached by phone. No attorney information was available for Brochu, according to online court records.
Police records show, in December 1982, Brochu was arrested by Howard County police on two charges of child abuse, two counts of a third-degree sex offense and a charge of assault and battery. A total of seven boys, all between the ages of 9 and 13, said Brochu molested them, according to a May 1983 story by The (Baltimore) Sun.
Brochu, who was living in Columbia at the time and serving as a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, pleaded guilty to the charges that ordinarily would have carried a 15-year jail sentence. He received a five-year suspended sentence, was placed on five years probation, and ordered to continue psychological counseling. The reduced sentence came as Brochu’s attorney at the time argued the then-23-year-old had been cited several times as an outstanding airman, according to the Sun.
Prince George’s police were made aware of Brochu’s prior charges in Howard County when he admitted to police he had prior offenses during an interview after his arrest on Aug. 4, said Capt. Genia Reeves, an assistant commander in the county’s special crimes section. Despite his confession, police could not locate any prior charges in a criminal background database search, she said.
“When we initially interviewed him, he told us about his prior charges. Why they weren’t in the system, we don’t know,” she said. “We started looking more into it and contacted jurisdictions where charges were placed upon him. We were able to find out more details about what happened, but after he was released on bond. It took a while for it to be confirmed.”
After Brochu’s initial arrest, he was granted and supplied $200,000 bond earning his release from the Department of Corrections on Aug. 7. The $200,000 bond was the typical amount given to somone with no prior record, Erzen said.
Brochu’s release despite having committed prior offenses irked Matt Baker of Bowie, who has a 13-year-old daughter attending Samuel Ogle Middle School near Brochu’s Bowie home.
“If he had priors and this was some sort of relapse, he absolutely should not have been given bail,” said Baker, the president of the Parent Teacher Student Organization at Ogle.
Reeves said despite knowing about prior charges elsewhere, Prince George’s police were focused on the three outstanding charges within the county, because more victims had been coming forward following his first charge for sexually abusing one child.
“We didn’t put a lot of effort into what was occurring in other areas. We focused on the victims that we knew were in our county,” she said.
Brochu was not listed on a sex offender registry, which Maryland and other states weren’t required to maintain until 1995 with the passage of the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Act, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Cases where those convicted of past sexual crimes are not listed in state databases aren’t that common, said Staca Shehan, director of case analysis division at NCMEC. For states to go back and list those convicted of sexual offenses prior to the 1994 requirement would most likely be both expensive and time consuming, she said.
“There is not a requirement to go back and register offenses and convictions that occurred prior to the sex offender registry,” Shehan said.
Maryland law requires sex offenders convicted prior to the establisment of the sex offender registry to have their past crimes included in the list if they are convicted or plead guilty to a felony crime after 2010. Since the change, about 800 past offenders have been added to the state’s sex offender registry, said Elizabeth Bartholomew, manager of the Maryland Sex Offender registry in the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. If Brochu was convicted on one of the new sex offenses, his previous crimes also would go up on the sex offender registry, she said.
Going back to bring all sex offense cases onto the registry is not required by state law, and doing so could be both time consuming for the five people on her staff and and could cost millions, if not more, Bartholomew said.
“I couldn’t even estimate how long it would take. It would be a substantial fiscal note,” she said. “It seems like an overwhelming task.”