Photo Gallery | Arturo Bravo Dangerousness Hearing
GREAT BARRINGTON -- A man suspected of serially molesting young boys in the Berkshires and Connecticut for decades is being held without bail after a judge deemed that he poses a danger to the community.
Arturo Bravo, 74, who primarily resides in New Britain, Conn., and owns a cabin on Arrowhead Lane in Becket, faces charges for allegedly molesting a 12-year-old boy in Becket twice in recent weeks.
But the allegations are just the latest in a "pattern of abuse spanning [at least three] decades," said Berkshire Assistant District Attorney Michael D'Angelo during Monday's dangerousness hearing in Southern Berkshire District Court.
D'Angelo said his office investigated Bravo in 2004 for the molestation of three Berkshire County boys of 12, 15 and 18, but charges did not result. And he said Connecticut state police plan to file charges against Bravo after numerous men have come forward alleging abuse dating back decades.
"We have a significant history here of alleged abuse," D'Angelo said. "These charges ... are about as serious as you can have.
He added, "The victims are family members, family friends, or members of the neighborhood that the defendant lives in and gets to know. They come over his house, he babysits them, they do yard work for him, he pays them money, he spends time with them, time with them alone and with family members around. He builds trust and then he violates that trust."
D'Angelo said Bravo intimidated the Becket 12-year-old and other victims post-abuse, saying "Don't tell anybody or else I'll go to jail and you could go to jail."
The overall picture painted by numerous victims has been corroborated in multiple investigations, D'Angelo said. Consistent with former cases, the Becket 12-year-old had been doing odd jobs and yard work for Bravo at the time the alleged abuse occurred.
"There is clear and convincing evidence that these allegations have veracity and [Bravo] poses a danger to children here in Massachusetts and in Connecticut," D'Angelo said.
Defense attorney Andrea Harrington sought to cast doubt on the most recent allegations, calling them "double hearsay statements," given to state police by the Becket 12-year-old and his mother.
In Harrington's view, the move to deny bail threatened Bravo's right of due process because the duress of imprisonment exacerbates his "frail" condition and inhibits the process of constructing a defense.
Bravo suffered a stroke over the summer, which may have caused memory impairment, she said, and he has required treatment at Berkshire Medical Center since his imprisonment.
Because prosecutors lacked hard evidence against Bravo, house arrest in New Britain, Conn., would be more appropriate, Harrington said. Bravo's son, Arturo Bravo Jr., appeared in court Monday and was willing to take responsibility for him in such a case.
But Judge Charles Groce disagreed after reading dozens of pages of investigation reports by local and Connecticut state police during the court's lunch recess.
"It is alleged that over the course of decades, the defendant committed acts of sexual abuse," he said. "Essentially, from the information presented, it almost appeared (he abused) any young boy the defendant could get his hands on."
Groce said a lengthy list of victims alleging abuse, many of them family, claim Bravo preyed upon them between the ages of 5 to preteenage.
"The allegations against the defendant alleging a pattern of serial abuse over the course of decades would pose a significant danger to any community where the defendant would reside," he said, ordering Bravo held without bail for 120 days. "The commonwealth has met its burden of clear and convincing evidence that there are no conditions for release that would reasonably ensure the safety of this community."
Bravo appeared relaxed throughout Monday's lengthy proceedings, occasionally talking to Harrington and once flashing a smile toward his son.
A civil case this summer in New Britain Superior Court was decided in favor of a family member, who alleged childhood abuse and won a financial settlement, according to Hartford attorney Tim O'Keefe, of Kenny, O'Keefe & Usseglio, who represented the plaintiff in the case, which dragged on for years.
Two other men testified during that case that they had been abused by Bravo as children, according to O'Keefe, who said he handed over ample materials from the firm's investigation to Connecticut police in hopes that they would initiate criminal proceedings against Bravo.
Connecticut State Police issued a warrant for Bravo's arrest on Sept. 2.
Throughout that case, Bravo maintained his innocence, and to O'Keefe's surprise, he gave a deposition rather than invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.
"I sincerely hope that he is fully prosecuted in both states," O'Keefe told The Eagle.
Bravo faces two counts indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and one count of witness intimidation in the Becket case, but charges against him in Connecticut as well are "likely," D'Angelo said.
A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Jan. 22.
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