Police: Man used social media to groom, sexually assault child

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 1:00 PM CST
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POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT) - A Pocahontas man faces multiple felony charges, including rape and child pornography, after police said he used social media to sexually groom a child.

A Randolph County District Court judge found probable cause to arrest 22-year-old Brandon W. Vessel on the following charges:

  • Rape
  • Second-degree sexual assault
  • Distributing/possessing/viewing sexually explicit content involving a child
  • Sexually grooming a child
  • Sexual indecency with a child

According to court documents, the charges stem from a Jan. 27 phone call the victim’s mother made to the Pocahontas Police Department.

The mother reported that a family member sent her several screenshots of Snapchat conversations between Vessel and her child.

The mother reported she also received a message that same day from Vessel “stating that he knew he messed up and received and sent dirty pictures,” the affidavit said.

During a Mirandized interview at the police station, Detective Corporal Trason Johnson stated Vessel admitted to having sexual intercourse with the child victim on Jan. 24 in the backyard of a family member’s home.

“Mr. Vessel admitted to Det. Johnson he went to the house knowing he was going to have sex with the child,” the court documents stated.

Johnson said Vessel told him he exchanged nude photos with the victim and another child using the Snapchat app.

“Vessel stated he did not have any sexual contact with [the second victim],” the affidavit said.

Vessel is being held on a $200,000 cash-only bond at the Randolph County Detention Center. Should he make bail, the judge also ordered him to wear an ankle monitor and to have no contact with the victims.

Vessel is scheduled to appear in circuit court on March 29 for arraignment.