Police: Hospital worker fondled on job, man arrested

Battery charges filed against Joseph Branam, 42

INDIANAPOLIS - An Indianapolis man was arrested after an 18-year-old worker at Eskenazi Hospital said he molested her on the job.

Police said the man had previously been told to stay away from the hospital, but when he returned last week he was accused of making sexual advances on two different workers before actually touching one of them.

Joseph Edwin Branam, Jr., 42, of West Rybolt Avenue in northwest Indianapolis, was jailed on charges of battery, trespassing and possessing drug paraphernalia. He is scheduled to face a criminal court judge on the misdemeanor charges Wednesday.

Police said that Branam had been ordered to stay away from the hospital one week earlier when he was loitering and wandering around the hospital.

Branam is accused of approaching an 18-year-old female employee at a food service kiosk, waiting for other customers to leave, and then fondling and groping her buttocks and the side of her body.

The victim told police that, during the encounter, the man said to her, “You’re very beautiful and out of a one to ten scale you are a twenty-three.”

The woman pointed toward the exit and told Branam to leave, but police said he returned a short time later and asked the victim how old she was, and whether or not she sold candy bars. She said her kiosk did not sell candy bars.

She told police that Branam then asked where she attended school and whether she had graduated and then informed her that he had a daughter who was 20 years old.

Branam then left the hospital, but the woman told her supervisor and security workers stopped the man in a nearby parking lot.

Another female worker in the same food area of the hospital then told police that Branam also hit on her after she tried to help him.

She said she felt sorry for Branam, so she bought him a cup of coffee because he said he only had a dollar in his pocket. She said she also gave him a free muffin to go with his coffee.

The coffee shop worker said the conversation then turned, with the man asking whether she was married or had a boyfriend. She answered that it was none of his business and she, too, told him to leave the area.

Police read Branam his rights and asked him what happened, but he denied touching the hospital worker. He said whatever happened was an accident, but then declined to answer further questions and asked for a lawyer.

In addition to the battery and trespassing charges, a drug charge was added when Branam volunteered to the first officer who approached him that he had a “weed pipe” in his pocket. The solid cylindrical pipe was then retrieved from his pocket.

A search of Branam’s criminal record in Marion County shows a burglary arrest and a long history of numerous public intoxication arrests. He was arrested for resisting arrest during one of those encounters, but no other violent crimes appeared on his local record.

Jail records showed he was locked up without having posted bail on Monday afternoon.

Todd Harper, spokesman for Eskenazi Health, said the staff was "horrified by this" and is taking the matter seriously. He said the hospital is cooperating with authorities.

Police originally booked Branam on a more serious charge of sexual battery, but that was dropped in favor of the lesser battery charge after prosecutors reviewed the details of the case.

Officers said they reviewed security video from the food area, and it backed up the women’s stories.

As officers were emptying Branam’s pockets for his trip to jail, their police report shows he had one dollar in cash, 45 cents in coins, a sock hat, a baseball cap and various paper in addition to the marijuana pipe.

He was issued an additional trespassing warning by police, which means he is barred from hospital property after he is released from jail.

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