Sex assault suspect released


A Lowcountry musician accused of sexually assaulting a young girl was released from Charleston County’s jail on Tuesday.

John Brannen, 60, of Mount Pleasant, made bail and was released from the Cannon Detention Center at about 3 a.m., according to jail records.

On Monday, a circuit judge in Charleston set a $50,000 surety bond. During the hearing, 9th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Debbie Herring-Lash told the judge that the girl’s mother was afraid of Brannen’s potential release.

“She’s fearful because of his behavior. He’s been abusive of drugs and alcohol and becomes violent when he’s under the influence,” Herring-Lash said.

Brannen’s longtime friend, Eleanor Washburn, told The Post and Courier she doesn’t believe any of the claims made against Brannen, who has no prior record.

“It has been very, very difficult for him,” she said after the bond hearing on Monday. “I think he’s going to be very, very glad to come home.”

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 a girl, 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.

Police made the arrest after the child was interviewed by the Lowcountry Children’s Center.

Judge J.C. Nicholson set certain conditions for Brannen’s release from jail. He may not have any contact with the girl or her mother.

He must also be submitted for evaluation for substance abuse and follow all treatment recommendations including counseling, if necessary.

He must also surrender his passport to his attorney.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or