Sex abuse charge dropped

A man accused of continuous sexual abuse against a child, a Class AA felony, had his charge dismissed Dec. 3 following his death two days earlier in Trinity Hospital in Minot. He had remained on life support at the hospital since a suicide attempt at about 11 p.m. on Nov. 24, in his cell in the Ward County Jail.

Francis Alex Bruce Jr., 45, Minot, was charged with continuous sexual abuse against a child in May 2013 after a child abuse or neglect report was filed with the Minot Police Department and investigated.

“It was evening,” Ward County Sheriff Steve Kukowski said of the suicide attempt during an interview Wednesday. “He (Bruce) was conversing with his cell-mate and that case was investigated by our detectives and it was shadowed by the (North Dakota) Bureau of Criminal Investigation and they reviewed all of our reports and monitored the investigation as it proceeded.”

Following Bruce’s admittal to the intensive care unit at Trinity Hospital a request from his attorney, Mary Seaworth of the North Dakota Public Defenders’ Office in Minot, for the order prohibiting him from having contact with anyone under the age of 18 was removed. North Central Judicial District Judge Todd Cresap signed the order removing the prohibition on Nov. 27.

He was expected to not survive after being taken off of life support, and a letter submitted to the court by Dr. Rashpal Singe of the hospital supported the argument that he was not at risk of offending while in the hospital “due to the extent of traumatic brain injury … and medical issues,” also pointing out that a deputy of the Ward County Sheriff’s Office remained guarding his room at all times.

In her request, Seaworth argued that “the gathering and visitation of family members of all ages at the time of death is an important part of Mr. Bruce and his family’s Native American cultural heritage and tradition.”