Date: January 20, 2016
FORMER CHURCH ASSISTANT TO FACE TRIAL FOR MOLESTING TWO GIRLS UNDER 14 AFTER BEFRIENDING THEIR FAMILIES THROUGH THE CHURCH
WESTMINSTER, Calif. – A former church assistant is scheduled to face trial for molesting two girls under the age of 14 after befriending their families through the church. Branden Edward Shumate, 37, Koloa, Hawaii, is charged with three felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14 with a sentencing enhancement allegation for committing lewd acts upon multiple victims. If convicted, Shumate faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in state prison and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration. Opening statements are scheduled to begin tomorrow, Jan. 21, 2016, at 8:30 a.m., in Department W-9, West Justice Center, Westminster.
Between Sept. 13, 1997, and Sept. 12, 1998, the defendant, then 18 years old, is accused of working as an assistant in a church where his father was a pastor and leader of the church in Lake Forest. During that time the defendant is accused of organizing a trip to an Irvine water park for members of the church.
During the summer of 1997, a family member of 6-year-old Jane Doe 1, who was a member of the defendant’s father’s church, dropped her daughter off at the church to be taken to the water park. The defendant is accused of digitally penetrating Jane Doe 1 after she had fallen asleep while waiting for the other children attending the water park to arrive. The victim did not report the crime at the time.
Between Sept. 12, 1998, and Sept. 13, 2003, the defendant is accused of remaining in contact with the victim’s family. During that time the victim avoided contact with the defendant.
Between Sept. 13, 2003, and Sept. 12, 2005, the defendant is accused of helping then 12-year-old Jane Doe 1’s family move their belongings into a different residence. During the move, the defendant is accused of driving in a vehicle alone with the victim behind her family’s moving truck. The defendant is accused of pulling into an empty parking lot and forcing Jane Doe 1 to orally copulate him. The victim did not report the crime at the time.
On one occasion in 2006, Shumate is accused of attempting to make contact with the victim. The defendant is accused of moving to Hawaii with his family after attempting to contact the victim. Jane Doe 1 then told a family member and a friend about the crimes. The family member and a retained attorney then contacted Riverside Sheriff’s Department, who began investigating this case and transferred the investigation to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD).
On one occasion in August 2010, the defendant is accused of being alone with 10-year-old Jane Doe 2 and attempting to engage in a sexually explicit conversation with the victim. Between August 2010, and March 31, 2011, Jane Doe 2’s family moved into the defendant’s family’s home.
On another evening between Dec. 1, 2010, and March 31, 2011, the defendant is accused of being alone with Jane Doe 2. Shumate is accused of entering the bathroom where Jane Doe 2 was taking a shower. The defendant is accused of sexually assaulting Jane Doe 2 while she was drying off from the shower.
In August 2011, Jane Doe 2’s family moved to Alaska, where the victim told her mother about the crime. Jane Doe 2’s mother reported the crime to her local police department in Alaska, who began investigating this case and transferred the investigation to OCSD.
The defendant was arrested by the Honolulu Police Department after having returned to Hawaii after March 31, 2011, and extradited back to Orange County.
Deputy District Attorney Kristin Bracic of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.