BELTON — “He is deserving of a 30-year sentence.”
That was Leslie McWilliams’ message for Judge John Gauntt on Thursday afternoon.
The prosecutor wanted Killeen resident Randall Bragge Jr., 28, who pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of a child under 14 in February, to be in prison until he is nearly 60 years old.
Gauntt’s punishment came close. The 27th District Court judge sentenced Bragge to 24 years in prison. “I’m sorry I cannot heal everything, I’m sorry I cannot turn back the clock,” Gauntt said.
Bragge assaulted and raped the victim repeatedly from the time she was 4 years old, according to her witness testimony. The last time it happened was in 2015 when she was 16, and the victim said she was assaulted or raped “at least 15 times.”
The sexual assaults happened in Killeen and at Fort Hood.
While on the stand, the victim testified she learned what Bragge had done to her was wrong while learning about human development in school. She had to watch a movie about child abuse, and realized then what Bragge did to her over and over again was wrong.
In March 2016, Bragge tried to rape her again, she testified. This time, she stood her ground and said no. The victim told her older sister about the abuse shortly afterward.
“(The victim) is a brave young woman,” McWilliams said. “Thank goodness that in April of 2016, she felt brave enough to tell her sister what happened to her.”
Bragge’s attorney asked the victim why she didn’t come forward and tell anyone about the abusive behavior for so long.
McWilliams rebuked that immediately in her closing statement.
“This started when she was just 4 years old. She was a baby; she was a child,” she said. “We in the court know that there are a myriad of reasons why victims don’t tell.”
The victim testified she was afraid of Bragge, and his aggressive behavior intimidated her.
“The easy thing to do here is to blame the victim, McWilliams said. “If you don’t think that child wouldn’t be afraid of him, you’re out of your mind.”
The victim also testified Bragge tried to assault a family member three years younger than she. He resisted.
In addition to his 24-year sentence, Bragge will have to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison. He also must pay $501 accrued in court costs.