Share and Follow
A Kentucky woman will spend the next several decades behind bars for her role in the physical and sexual abuse of children in a case that also involved animal cruelty to make criminal sexual fetish videos.
In October, Michelle Raylene Bray, 43, was convicted on nine counts, including charges of sexual abuse in the first degree, use of a minor under the age of 16 in a sex performance, criminal abuse of a child under the age of 12, and human trafficking of a victim under the age of 18, according to the Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.
On Thursday, she was sentenced by a judge, on the recommendation of the same 12 jurors who found her guilty, to 30 years in prison.
Content warning: child sexual abuse references.
The since-condemned woman faced a maximum of 70 years in prison for her role in the yearslong abuse of her two children. Most of those crimes, however, were committed by her boyfriend and accomplice, Christopher Michael Whittaker, 39, sentenced to 10 life sentences in prison by a judge in late September.
Court documents provided by prosecutors to Law&Crime detail, broadly and specifically, some of the defendants’ criminal depravity.
Between October and November 2016, Whittaker took part in and sometimes directed the abuse of Bray’s then-7-year-old son, who law enforcement described as “nonverbal” and who “has a feeding tube placed in his stomach,” one criminal complaint says.
Between January 2017 and July 2021, the man repeatedly raped, sodomized, promoted in various sexual performances, and sexually abused Bray’s daughter on video, beginning when she was under the age of 12, Whittaker’s 24-page indictment says.
Starting in September 2021 and ending in January 2022, Whitaker also repeatedly tortured the family’s cat, according to the indictment. The crimes were captured on video, prosecutors say.
Whittaker admitted to having a “foot fetish” and engaging in “trampling,” one court document reads. Bray told police she and Whittaker “engage in the ‘intimate’ act of crushing or trampling,” described as “a BDSM fetish in which one derives sexual pleasure from being walked on or watching another person be walked on.”
During Bray’s five-day-long trial, jurors were shown hundreds of such videos filmed by the couple.
“I think everyone in the room was crying at some point during this trial,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Emily Arnzen said in comments reported by Cincinnati, Ohio-based NBC affiliate WLWT. “But the most shocking thing was Michelle Bray was the last to shed any tears.”
Some of the videos showed Bray stepping on a small child.
Other videos showed Bray teaching a different child how to perform the fetish by stepping on Whittaker. That same child was also seen in videos being raped, sodomized, and sexually abused by Whittaker, prosecutors told Law&Crime. Bray did not appear in the rape videos.
Whitaker initially blamed one of the victims.
“He stated he had been producing these videos for approximately two years at the victim’s request,” Whittaker’s original criminal complaint reads. “In one of the videos, the arrestee can be observed holding a pet cat down on his bed as he instructed the 14-year-old victim, who was bare-breasted and wearing only underwear bottoms and high heels, to walk across the bed to where he was holding the cat down and step on the cat to the point where the cat screeched in discomfort. This action was repeated in the video several times.”
Added Arnzen in a statement: “I was actually surprised the jury only imposed a 30-year sentence for Michelle Bray because, in addition to her crimes being repulsive, she showed absolutely no remorse, but we respect their judgment. These children can begin to heal knowing they will be grown-ups before there is any chance of Michelle Bray or Christopher Whittaker getting out of prison.”
Bray will be eligible for parole after 20 years.