Former Regiment Major guilty of sexual assault
Former Bermuda Regiment Quartermaster Glenn Brangman was accused by 13 male soldiers of sexual misconduct before he was ordered to retire in 2002, The Royal Gazette can reveal.
But nothing was ever proven against the 59-year-old former Bermuda Housing Corporation boss, who was found guilty yesterday of four counts of sexual assault on a teenage clerk after a Magistrates' Court trial.
The 13 claims were uncovered by this newspaper during a lengthy investigation in 2009 which delved into Major Brangman's 30-year career at Warwick Camp.
Our inquiries began after The Royal Gazette was approached by the latest victim, now aged 22, about the abuse he suffered while living in BHC accommodation and working at the quango.
The clerk, referred to as Mr X in the reports of the trial, is the 14th man whom The Royal Gazette is aware of who has made allegations of sexual misconduct against Brangman.
A 15th man who accused the former BHC general manager of sexual assault failed to show up for a Magistrates' Court trial in May 2010.
The Royal Gazette obtained civil court documents filed by Brangman's own lawyers which outlined the accusations made during his time in the Regiment.
The first accusation was made in 1989 but police decided not to prosecute; the last was made in 2002, the year Brangman was made to retire from the military.
Only one of the 13 cases went to court, in 2001, when Brangman walked free after a magistrate deemed the alleged victim's testimony to be inconsistent and unreliable.
This newspaper revealed the alleged sexual misconduct in September 2009, prompting calls from politicians for a Royal Commission and leading to three inquiries: by the Regiment, the then Ministry of Home Affairs and the Human Rights Commission.
We were unable to reveal Brangman's identity at the time because of pending trials. Our investigation discovered one other allegation of sexual harassment at Warwick Camp during the same period; it concerned a different officer whom we are not naming.
The disclosure is likely to raise serious questions about why Brangman was allowed to remain in charge of young conscripts for so long and whether proper processes were in place at the Island's part-time army for dealing with such issues.
The Royal Gazette shared its findings with Governor Sir Richard Gozney, the Regiment's commander-in-chief, in October, 2009. He said: “There were complaints and allegations about certain behaviour at the Regiment in the years before 2002.
“They were investigated by the Regiment at the time and referred to the Bermuda Police Service when necessary. Clearly no evidence of criminal action sufficient to support a prosecution was found.
“An officer left the Regiment in 2002. As far as I am aware no comparable complaints and allegations have been made about behaviour at the Regiment by those in authority there since 2002.
“That is why I do not support an outside investigation now into activity at the Regiment.”
Lt Col Brian Gonsalves, the Regiment's Commanding Officer, has said the claims uncovered by this newspaper were made before he was in charge so he cannot speak about them, except to say they were dealt with at the time.
He conducted his own internal inquiry into the allegations and reported in January 2010 that he gained no further details.
He said in a January 2010 e-mail: “My investigation was initiated resulting from your story reported in The Royal Gazette about a former senior officer sexually harassing soldiers prior to 2002.
“I can confirm that the alleged officer left the employ of the Regiment (retired) in 2002 and most, if not all, of any allegations appear to have centred around this one former officer's alleged behaviour and, again, all prior to 2002.
“Unfortunately, no further details have been gained by the recent investigation than previously reviewed at the time and only second-hand and unsubstantiated information was provided at this time.
“Please know, I reaffirm my commitment as Commanding Officer that my staff and I will continue to remain ever vigilant to ensure a safe and harassment-free environment for all our soldiers, whatever their rank.”
The CO did not interview any of the alleged victims, explaining: “The Regiment's powers of investigation are limited by the Defence Act to serving members only.”
He said: “We will ... investigate any new allegations relevant to the Regiment, if any, that may be submitted in the future.”
Asked if he wished to comment yesterday, Lt Col Gonsalves said: “Mr Brangman left the Regiment in 2002. In the circumstances and given the passage of time, there is nothing further that I can usefully add at this time.”
The HRC inquiry, launched in October 2009, is still ongoing, with commissioners due to receive a report on the matter at their next meeting on March 1.
HRC executive director Lisa Lister said yesterday: “It hasn't concluded until the Commission determines it. We are wrapping up the investigation but the Commission then makes a determination on whether there is sufficient evidence to go to a board of inquiry or whether to dismiss the complaint altogether.”
Brangman, of Limehouse Lane, Hamilton Parish, was taken on as a consultant by Government in 2005 and made head of BHC the following year. The job brought him into regular contact with young, vulnerable men in need of housing.
Mr X was one such youth. Aged 19, he obtained temporary accommodation from BHC at Southside and was given a job as a clerk.
Brangman was tasked in June 2009 with helping the Guantánamo Bay Uighurs settle on the Island. But he lost his job as BHC general manager the following month after he was reported to the police by Mr X, whose identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons.
Mr X claimed Brangman repeatedly assaulted him in the first half of 2009.
A Magistrates' Court trial began in January, 2011 and concluded yesterday, when Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo found Brangman guilty of four counts of sexual assault.
The magistrate cleared the defendant of four further counts and had previously dismissed two other counts in March 2011.
The sexual assaults on Mr X in 2009 were not connected to the Regiment. But the victim was a conscripted private who refused to fulfill his regimental duties.
He said because Brangman was accused of similar attacks over a 13-year period while a serving officer, he did not believe Warwick Camp was a safe environment.
Brangman will be sentenced next month upon completion of a social inquiry report. Mr Tokunbo increased his bail to $50,000 with one surety and ordered him to surrender his travel documents and report weekly to Hamilton Police Station.
The convicted sex offender, who turns 60 on Friday, most recently worked at Rosedon Hotel, where he won an award as Employee of the Year in January 2011.
Asked last night if the outcome of the trial would affect his job, hotel manager Muriel Richardson said: “I think at this time it's best to make no comment.”