Inside a court room in Charleston, a group of people bowed their heads as a pastor prayed for God to give strength to their friend, Charleston musician John Brannen.
Brannen, 60, is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl. He’s been in Charleston County’s jail since he was denied bail last Monday.
His attorney, Andy Savage, asked Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson to set bail for the singer-songwriter. Nicholson set it for $50,000.
A room full of people had voiced their support for Brannen during the hearing in downtown Charleston on Monday morning. But prosecutors told the judge that the victim’s mother is fearful for her safety and is worried Brannen will retaliate.
“She’s fearful because of his behavior. He’s been abusive of drugs and alcohol and becomes violent when he’s under the influence,” said 9th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Debbie Herring-Lash.
Brannen is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of committing a lewd act on a child under 14.
The accusations against him first arose from 2009 to 2011 but were revived in January after the alleged victim, now 9-years-old, told counselors about her encounters with Brannen, according to the Mount Pleasant Police Department. Brannen is accused of sexually assaulting the girl while she was between the age of 6 and 8.
Those who spoke in support of Brannen in court said Brannen would never do this. “The one thing I have learned about John, when he tells you something, he’s never shielding the truth. Therefore, I believe what he says,” the Rev. Phil Bryant of The French Protestant (Huguenot) Church told the judge.
Investigators arrested and charged Brannen based on the Lowcountry Children’s Center interview with the child.
Eleanor Washburn has been a friend of Brannen’s for more than 20 years. “I’ve never known him to take illegal drugs,” she said. “I don’t believe any of its true.”
Brannen didn’t say much during the hearing except to answer the judge’s questions about his health conditions. He spoke of his Attention Deficit Disorder and told the judge he takes medication for it.
Brannen’s website bills him as an American roots and heartland rock singer who has signed contracts with Mercury Records in Nashville and Sly Dog in Detroit. He was born in Savannah but raised in Charleston.
Nicholson set certain conditions on his bail, if he is released from jail. He can’t have contact with the victim or her mother. He must undergo alcohol and drug abuse treatment and counseling. He must also surrender his passport.