Wife stands behind husband facing child pornography charges


A St. Joseph County senior citizen is facing federal charges for downloading sexually explicit photos and videos of teenagers and pre-pubescent children.

James Braun, 68, was arrested on Oct. 2, 2012 for possession and distribution of child pornography. His arrest followed a Sept. 2012 grand jury indictment.

In May 2012, Google Inc. observed suspicious activity from an IP address inside Braun’s home along Shady Tree Ct. in the Nature’s Way subdivision. The search engine notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which turned the information over to federal authorities.

In June 2012, investigators, armed with a search warrant, canvassed Braun’s neatly maintained ranch-style home. Computer forensic specialists discovered 81 pictures and eight videos of child porn on a Dell computer in his office. Some of that content featured children under the age of 12.

"The day they came out here to confiscate the computers, I was devastated. It’s ruined my life, his life, my son's life - it's ruined everybody's life,” Braun’s wife of 39-years, Linda, said.

Linda Braun says the problem began when she and her husband retired in 2009. The two moved from Indianapolis to the South Bend area to be geographically closer to their son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

Braun, a U.S. Army major during the Vietnam War and Department of Defense accountant of 27 years, was having trouble meeting new friends. He joined American Legion Post 284 in South Bend and also turned to Facebook to connect with people his own age.

"I knew he was looking for friends, but I did not know anything about the pictures. I was just upset he was on the computer so much and in fact our marriage started to crumble quite a bit,” Linda recalled.

Tucked inside his home office, the veteran with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal trolled social network websites like Facebook, meeting “friends” who allegedly sent him the illegal material.

"Well apparently he found the wrong kind of friends and they started sending him stuff, and it just snow-balled from there,” Linda added.

Three days after his October arrest, Braun posted his $50,000 bond and was released from the St. Joseph County Jail, which oftentimes holds individuals with federal charges until their trials in U.S. District Court. The conditions of his release meant Braun had to forfeit his passport, refrain from using the internet and stay inside his home from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. every day.

On March 19, 2013, Braun entered a guilty plea via his attorney Phillip Skodinski of South Bend. In turn, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the distribution charge against the 68-year-old, leaving only the possession of child pornography charge on the table. Because of his admitted guilt, Braun was re-booked at the St. Joseph County Jail on April 11 where he’s been awaiting his sentencing.

"I visit him frequently and from what I can tell during my visits, he is a changed man. He's gone through therapy and all that. I love him. He's always been good to me and yes he slipped-up, but I can't leave him,” Linda added.

Braun is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Jon DeGuilio on Thursday July 18 at 1:30 p.m. in U.S. District Courthouse in downtown South Bend.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is asking Judge DeGuilio to issue Braun a sentence of 63 months in federal prison, while the defense is pushing for home detention, with no access to the internet via a computer or cellular phone.

"He’s never ever had a criminal history and isn’t a flight risk. There's no need for somebody with his background, age and medical conditions to be sent to prison. What's the point of paying $32,000 a year when you can keep that same person on probation for $6,000 a year,” Linda argued.

To read Braun's charging documents and the intimate details of his plea agreement, just click on the icon below this story.


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