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Uncle of missing Vermont girl arrested

  • Story Highlights
  • Michael Jacques is charged with aggravated sexual assault against a minor
  • The alleged victim wasn't Brooke Bennett, who has been missing since Wednesday
  • Jacques, Brooke's uncle, is listed on Vermont's sex offender registry
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(CNN) -- Investigators in Vermont charged the uncle of a missing 12-year-old girl Sunday with sexually assaulting a minor -- but they said the charge does not involve his niece.

Police said their investigation into the disappearance of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett uncovered evidence that her uncle had sexually assaulted someone else.

Police charged Michael Jacques, 42, with aggravated sexual assault against a minor. The charge carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.

Jacques is listed as a registered sex offender in Vermont.

Vermont State Police Col. James Baker said Monday that investigators are considering that there may be "more victims of sexual abuse" by Jacques.

"The state police would like to speak to any child or teenager who may have been in contact with Michael Jacques," he said.

Authorities began focusing on Jacques based on information they gleaned through computer forensics, Baker said, adding, "This case is about social networking on the Internet."

Baker would not comment about the family dynamics between Brooke and her uncle.

Police have said the girl was communicating with someone on an online social networking site before she disappeared. Investigators have been examining her computer.

In an affidavit, State Police Detective Sgt. William Jenkins said the girl Jacques is accused of assaulting told investigators that when she was 9 or 10, she was told -- by telephone call and in a note left under her pillow -- that she had been chosen for enrollment in a "program for sex" and that Jacques was to be her trainer, The Associated Press reported late Monday.

According to the AP, the girl described being told that she and two other girls were in the program. "The first who does it lives and the second gets her throat cut," the affidavit said.

Brooke disappeared on Wednesday after visiting a convenience store in Randolph, Vermont, authorities said. A few days later, police said they found articles of clothing that they believe belonged to her.

The disappearance triggered the first Amber Alert issued in Vermont, authorities said.

Her father, James Bennett, has pleaded for information about his daughter.

"Obviously I'm upset," he told WCAX-TV, a CNN affiliate. "We just want her home. We want her back."

Police have said they do not know whether Brooke left voluntarily with someone.

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