Barbara Brooks: Mistrial declared in case of former foster parent charged with raping children

CINCINNATI -- A mistrial was declared Wednesday afternoon in the trial of a Colerain Township woman accused of sexually abusing children she babysat.

Barbara Brooks, a 63-year-old and former Hamilton County foster parent, pleaded not guilty in June 2012 to charges of sexually assaulting four different children she babysat between January 2000 and Feb. 27, 2007.

Officials said the rapes occurred in her homes in Mt. Healthy and Springfield Township.

During court proceedings Wednesday, defense attorneys attempted to introduce seven new witnesses to the case after opening remarks were made. Prosecutors were unaware of the witnesses, and some of them were in court listening to the start of the trial. That created an issue of separating witnesses from jurors and the court beforehand.

Prosecution in turn was offered an option to allow the witnesses, declare a mistrial, or not allow the witnesses to be called. The third option, according to prosecutors, would have left open doors for multiple appeals if a jury convicted Brooks.

Attorneys decided a mistrial, and a new trial date with new jurors, and possibly a new defense, was the best option. That new trial date is March 24, 2014.

In August 2012, Brooks' attorney requested a motion to suppress statements that Brooks made to police. The nature of those statements has not been released.

Brooks is charged with 15 counts of rape and three counts of gross sexual imposition. If convicted of all the charges, she faces the possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison, said Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

Brooks was a foster parent from 1996 until 2008, according to Hamilton County Job and Family Services spokesperson Brian Gregg.

Police arrested Brooks on June 7, 2012 after a relative of the alleged victims, who are now 18 and 23 years old, reported to police that the babysitter had abused them between 2000 and 2003.

In 2008, a child sex abuse complaint was made against Brooks, said Gregg. Cincinnati police investigated, but didn't file charges. Brooks resigned from the foster care program and Job and Family Services officials permanently terminated their relationship with her.

"These cases are always difficult to comprehend," Deters said in a previous news release. "We are glad that the victims had the courage to come forward so that we can make sure that Brooks is never in a position to care for a child again."

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