RANDOLPH, Vt. – A missing Vermont girl's uncle brought her home to initiate her into a sex ring, federal officials claim in court papers.
In an affidavit, officials contend a teenage girl admitted helping Michael Jacques, Brooke Bennett's uncle, drop off the 12-year-old at a store on June 25, then pick her up and take her to his Randolph home for initiation into a child sex ring. Brooke has not been seen since.
The 14-year-old, reportedly related to Jacques, told agents she, herself, had been having sex with Jacques, 42, since she was 9 as part of a sex ring called Breckinridge, according to the U.S. District Court affidavit. She said she was told Brooke was going to be brought into the ring that day.
The teenager said she understood that as part of the initiation, Brooke "would have sex with adult males," according to the affidavit in U.S. District Court.
She and Brooke watched television for a while before Jacques told her to leave and took Brooke upstairs, the teen said. The girl left the house with her boyfriend and did not see Brooke again, she said.
Brooke's former stepfather was expected in court Wednesday to face federal charges that he destroyed evidence in connection with the search for Brooke.
Ray Gagnon, 40, was to appear in U.S. District Court in Burlington, Vt., to answer an obstruction of justice charge. If convicted, the San Antonio, Texas, man could be sentenced to life in prison.
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Investigators searching for the girl arrested Gagnon and Jacques, a registered sex offender, this week on sexual assault charges. Brooke is not among the victims, according to police.
Jacques pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Earlier reports said Gagnon allegedly had traveled to the state from his Texas home to help search for Brooke, of Braintree, Vt. Authorities also analyzed surveillance video from the shop at which the girl last was seen.
In it, Jacques and the girl are seen leaving the store together and then Brooke going left out the door while Jacques goes right.
Gagnon was married to Brooke's mother for about five years; Brooke lived with them in Alabama. The mother, Cassandra Gagnon, told the San Antonio Express-News that Gagnon came to Vermont to try to lend a hand after her disappearance made national news last week.
"We're not doing very good ... not very good at all," the child's weeping stepmother, Janet Bennett, told FOX News on Wednesday.
Janet Bennett is married to Brooke's father, James Bennett, and said the family is frustrated over the lack of information they're getting on the case. She discounted the possibility that Brooke might have left on her own.
"She's not the type of girl who would run away," she said.
Gagnon was arrested Tuesday on federal child molestation charges in connection with a sexual assault investigation involving Brooke's uncle.
Gagnon was in federal custody Tuesday on a charge of aggravated sexual assault on a minor, according to Vermont State Police.
The arrest is related to the case against Jacques, who was charged on Monday with sexually assaulting a young girl over a five-year period. The girl told police she had been enrolled in what police called a program for sex.
According to court papers, she told police that Jacques was to be her trainer in a "program for sex" and that she had met three men affiliated with the program.
Girls in the program were warned that "the first [girl] who does it lives and the second gets her throat cut," according to an affidavit filed Monday at Vermont District Court for Orange County.
Col. James Baker, head of the state police, said authorities were considering all possibilities, including that the sex ring was a ruse Jacques created to intimidate the girl into having sex with him.
State police say Jacques is a "person of interest" in Brooke's disappearance.
Brooke had told family she was to meet a friend to visit the friend's hospitalized relative. Police now believe that was a lie and Brooke intended to meet someone she'd met on the Internet.
Police have described their investigation into Brooke's disappearance as involving social networking Web sites.
A vigil for Brooke was scheduled for 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.