Jurors convict Pottstown man of raping 11-year-old girl
NORRISTOWN >> A day after he collapsed onto the courtroom floor while delivering his closing argument to a jury, a Pottstown man was convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl two decades ago.
Louis Henry Branch, 51, of the 300 block of North York Street, bowed his head on Nov. 9 as a Montgomery County jury convicted him of felony charges of rape of a child under 13 and aggravated indecent assault of a child under 13 in connection with multiple incidents that occurred in Pottstown between 1996 and 1997.
The jury of nine men and three women deliberated about 90 minutes before reaching the verdict after hearing testimony during a three-day trial.
Judge Thomas C. Branca deferred sentencing so that court officials can complete a background investigation report about Branch, including a psychosexual risk assessment and a mental health evaluation.
Branch, who remains in the county jail without bail pending sentencing, faces a possible maximum sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison on the charges. However, state sentencing guidelines could allow for
a lesser sentence. The judge set a Feb. 6, 2019, sentencing date.
“We will be seeking as long a state sentence as is applicable under the law. We intend to ask for a sentence that reflects the seriousness of the crimes that he committed against this young woman all those years ago and that she’s had to live with for a long time,” said county Assistant District Attorney Matthew Brittenburg, who prosecuted the case.
The victim, now an adult woman, wept in court as the first guilty verdict was announced and was consoled by her friends and relatives.
As he was escorted from
the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies Branch, who represented himself at the trial, ignored a reporter’s questions and did not react to the verdict.
Branch’s exit from the courtroom on Nov. 9 was in stark contrast to the way he left a day earlier.
On Nov. 8, Branch left the courtroom with the help of emergency medical officials who were summoned to the courtroom when Branch appeared to collapse after delivering his closing argument to the jury.
Branch was taken to a local hospital for evaluation but was back in the courtroom on Nov. 9 when Brittenburg presented his closing argument to jurors and deliberations began.
With the charges, prosecutors alleged Branch sexually assaulted an 11-yearold girl on multiple occasions while she was in his company at locations in the borough in 1996 and 1997. Branch knew the victim’s family and he told the victim not to tell anyone, according to an arrest affidavit.
Brittenburg argued Branch exploited his relationship with the girl’s family in order to gain access to the girl.
An investigation by Pottstown detectives began in 2015 when the victim, now a woman in her 30s, confided in others about the assaults.
“The child for a number of reasons that the jury heard evidence about buried that painful memory for a long time,” Brittenburg said. “Their verdict recognized that she was truthful, honest and forthcoming and had gone through a lot.”
During the trial, Branch implied the woman lied about the incidents.
Despite the fact the assaults occurred in the 1990s, the statute of limitations allowed for the charges to be filed.
The victim testified during the trial and during uncomfortable moments had to endure being cross-examined by the very man she accused of abusing her.
“She put herself through a very difficult process which included the fact that the defendant represented himself and cross-examined her. You think about that dynamic, the defendant challenging the victim, the person he victimized all those years ago,” said Brittenburg, who characterized the victim as courageous.
Brittenburg also commended Pottstown Detective Heather Long for her investigation.
“The result that we were able to bring about would not have been possible without the dedication of Detective Heather Long from the Pottstown Police Department. This case, like so many others, just goes to show her commitment to seeking justice and supporting victims of sexual violence,” Brittenburg said.
“She sought out other leads and information in order to corroborate the victim in this case, had to travel long distances to meet with witnesses and the result that we got today would not be possible without her hard work,” Brittenburg added.
Prosecutors commended Pottstown Detective Heather Long for her investigation of convicted child rapist Louis Henry Branch. “The result that we were able to bring about would not have been possible without the dedication of Detective Heather Long from the Pottstown Police Department,” Montgomery County Prosecutor Matthew Brittenburg said.
Louis Henry Branch, 51, of Pottstown, is escorted from a Montgomery County courtroom after a jury convicted him of felony charges of rape of a child under 13.