As a private investigator, not much shocks Steve Powers anymore.
But a situation involving Doctor Samuel Bracken of Dublin, Ohio a few weeks ago was certainly a first.
His company, Powers Investigations, had installed a security-camera system inside the retired doctor’s home, after Bracken said that his wife required in-home nursing care and he wanted to keep an eye on the caregivers.
The cameras went in and all seemed fine. Then the doctor called to ask if the cameras were working properly. Bracken gave Powers permission to tap into the system remotely. And Powers immediately saw a video of Bracken fondling a teenage boy flash up on his own screen.
That’s when Powers called the Dublin Police Department.
The investigation revealed that the 74-year-old doctor, a retired OB/Gyn specialist, had two separate sexual encounters with a 15-year old boy – at least one involving oral sex.
Of concern to law enforcement is that Bracken had been a mentor with Big Brothers/Big Sisters Ohio program for years. That organization ended its relationship with Bracken after learning of the investigation.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters spokeswoman Mary Palkowski issued a statement to reporters. “We worked with law enforcement to investigate Doctor Bracken’s involvement with our program. We’ve determined that the child involved is not a participant in our mentoring programs.”
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said there were no other known victims, but the investigation was ongoing. “Anytime you have someone with that kind of access to children, you consider the possibility,” O’Brien said. “Sometimes, once charges are filed, others feel it’s safe to come forward.”
Bracken, MD will be sentenced in April.
For private investigator Powers, whose family has operated a security business for years, this was a first. A large part of their business, he said, involves security cameras.
“People sometimes want ‘nanny cams’ to check up on baby-sitters and caregivers,” he said. “But I’d never been asked to review a tape by a man, only to find him doing something like this.”
* * *
Dr. Samuel Bracken Jr., 74, was issued a sentence of 4-year Probation, with no jail time, on April 18, 2013.
Judge Alan Travis, in Franklin County Ohio Common Pleas Court, said he considered Bracken’s age and declining health, and a pre-sentencing report which indicated he had a “very low” risk of committing such a crime again.
Judge Travis told Bracken that he could be sent to prison for three years if he violates the sexual-offender supervision. He also fined Bracken $5,000 and ordered him to register as a sex offender.
Every now and then when a doctor is charged with screwy behavior, we notice the long line of web commenters who invariably say some version of this:
“There is no way somebody as smart and educated as a doctor would do ________ ” (go ahead, name your crime)
To which we reply that they evidently haven’t visited the MedicalMiscreant website. Five minutes here will edify that physicians can be as off-the-chart stupid as anybody.
But we certainly tip our cap to Steve Powers, for doing the right thing.
(We are indepted to reporters Holly Zacharia and Misti Crane for their research in this story)