Sentencing delayed in sex assault conviction

April 14, 2008 2:59:23 PM PDT
The sentencing of former coach and choir director Alonso Bracey was delayed Monday.He was convicted in February of sexually abusing five boys between the ages of 11 and 13.

Bracey was the basketball coach at Barton Elementary School on the city's South Side.

Monday's delay came after Bracey's attorney asked for a new trial, claiming the jury was pressured to reach a quick verdict.

It will be at least another month before the victims of former basketball coach and choir director may have closure. The family of the boys he was convicted of molesting expected his sentencing Monday but were unpleasantly surprised by when criminal court Judge Stanley Sacks was forced to continue the case.

The families of convicted child molester Bracey left court Monday morning without the justice they came for.

"I felt like justice was going to be served today," said LaTonya Barker, victim's mother, in tears.

Bracey was employed at the Barton Elementary School when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting children. The former elementary school basketball coach was supposed to be sentenced after he was convicted on February 29 of raping three boys and sexually assaulting two others. At the time, all the children were between the ages of 11 and 13 and were members of the basketball team he coached.

"It's disappointing. I'm angry. I'm very angry. But I'm determined. We will be back here the next court date to make sure he gets what he has got coming," said Lamenda Jones, victim's mother.

Bracey was to be sentenced to life in prison Monday morning based on a criminal statute and new sentencing guidelines that apply to the abuse of more than one child. Instead, his lawyer motioned for a new trial, citing two key pieces of evidence. They include an anonymous letter the defense says it received along with information Bracey says a friend of a juror told him that the jury in his trial was pressured to come to quick verdict.

"I would like to make sure that that juror came up with the decision on their own without any undue pressure," said Theodore London, Bracey's attorney.

"It seemed like we were hearing that somebody else heard through someone else. There were so many levels of hearsay. The defense had since February 29 to look into any kind of allegation of misconduct," said Patricia Shea, Cook Co. Asst. State's Atty.

The prosecution says the letter is questionable at best and seriously doubts anyone pressured Bracey's jury to convict. The parents and relatives of the boys assaulted by Bracey say they believe the claims of jury interference is a stall tactic that only serves to prolong their pain.

"We just want justice to be served out of this," said Credell Browdry, victim's father.

In court, the judge said because the jury only deliberated five hours he seriously doubted there has been any undo pressure, but most likely because of the threat of an appeal, the court is entertaining the motion for a new trial. That happens in late May.

Despite the conviction, Bracey continues to maintain his innocence.

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