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California Legislature employee is arrested in child pornography case

People walk near the Capitol in Sacramento
Investigators tracked an illicit image to an IP address at the state Capitol, authorities said.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

An assistant to a California assemblywoman has been arrested on suspicion of accessing child pornography while inside the state Capitol building.

Brandon Martinez Bratcher, 28, turned himself in to authorities Monday after an illicit image was tracked to an IP address at the building that houses the state Legislature and governor’s office, said Sgt. Rod Grassmann, a spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office.

Bratcher worked as a legislative assistant for Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda).

Jordan Curley, a spokeswoman for Bauer-Kahan, said the assemblywoman’s office was “stunned to learn of these disturbing charges.”

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Bratcher was immediately placed on administrative leave, Curley said.

Grassmann said the investigation began when a “major social media company” suspected that one of its users was in possession of child pornography, then contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Grassmann could not confirm which social media company was involved. He said the companies often maintain a database of images to compare with what users are accessing and sharing.

The Sacramento Valley High Tech Crimes Task Force, a collaboration among about 60 different regional agencies, took control of the investigation, which soon pointed to Bratcher.

“When it came back to identify who the person was, it came back to him, and then the IP address came back to the state legislative council on the state Capitol grounds,” Grassmann said.

The task force then turned the case over to California Highway Patrol, which has jurisdiction over state property.

Grassmann said it was unclear how many images Bratcher accessed or shared while on state grounds.

Bratcher was charged with one felony count of child pornography possession, which can incorporate more than one instance.

“One charge doesn’t always equate to the possession of one image,” Sacramento district attorney spokeswoman Rochelle Beardsley said.

Child pornography investigations sometimes yield more search warrants that uncover additional evidence, Grassmann said.

Bratcher was released from jail earlier this week and arraigned Wednesday. His attorney, Kristy Horton, did not respond to a request for comment.


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