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Archive for Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lawrence woman sentenced to prison for lewd and lascivious behavior with two girls; husband to stand trial in January

Natasha Brown, shown at her sentencing Tuesday in Douglas County District Court, has been ordered to serve a 28-month prison sentence.

Natasha Brown, shown at her sentencing Tuesday in Douglas County District Court, has been ordered to serve a 28-month prison sentence.

December 21, 2010, 3:57 p.m. Updated December 21, 2010, 5:57 p.m.

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Natasha Brown

Natasha Brown

A Douglas County judge Tuesday afternoon ordered a Lawrence woman to serve a 28-month prison sentence for endangering two girls who say they were sexually assaulted by her husband.

“There are several things she could have done to prevent the ongoing sexual abuse of these children,” District Judge Peggy Kittel said before handing down the prison sentence to Natasha M. Brown.

Brown, 34, nodded her head when listening to Kittel’s instructions during the sentencing hearing. Kittel ruled that Brown could get credit for the six months she has already served in jail and would be eligible through good behavior to get credit for 20 percent of her sentence.

Brown had apologized to the girls’ parents earlier in the hearing.

“You entrusted us with your children, and my husband and I violated that trust beyond measure,” said Brown, who has been convicted of two counts of aggravated child endangerment and one count of lewd and lascivious behavior.

Amy McGowan, a chief assistant Douglas County district attorney, had asked Kittel to depart from standard sentencing guidelines and give Brown prison time.

Normally, Brown, who has no criminal history, would face probation for the three convictions.

Kittel found that Brown deserved the steeper sentence because of the ages of the victims — they are now 9 and 11 — and because the defendants had a relationship of trust with the girls.

The girls’ family from Topeka met the Browns through Heritage Baptist Church, which is northwest of Lawrence. Prosecutors have said that in May the girls talked to their parents, accusing Natasha Brown’s husband, Donald Brown, of having sex with them. Police later arrested the Browns.

“My children lost their innocence, and they may never get most of that back,” their mother said in a letter read in court. “And two of them will never get their purity back.”

A jury in October convicted Brown of two counts of aggravated child endangerment and one count of lewd and lascivious behavior. Her husband, Donald Brown, 33, faces a January trial on multiple charges, including three counts of child rape. He is accused of having sex with and molesting the two girls from June 2008 to May of this year.

Natasha Brown was convicted of lewd and lascivious behavior for lifting her skirt and exposing her genitalia to the children.

The girls’ father had asked Kittel to give Natasha Brown the maximum prison sentence she could because the events have had a tragic effect on the family.

“It’s not that I hate,” he said. “It’s just that I don’t trust anyone, not at all.”

Defense attorney Napoleon Crews had argued that his client, Natasha Brown, was involved in an abusive relationship with her husband and she was intimidated into not reporting anything about the abuse to police.

But Kittel said Brown acknowledged she thought her husband was sexually “grooming” the children and that she was aware of the abuse. Kittel said Brown could have done several things, including notifying the police or the girls’ parents, confronting her husband or refusing to let the children stay at the home.

Comments

missmagoo 4 years, 1 month ago

While it doesn't seem like enough, I guess it's better than probation.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm really confused. Based on the facts as reported here, this is an illegal sentence, double the possible maximum. The sentence should have been capped at 14 months.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 1 month ago

Upward durational departure. The judge can do it because she has dicretionatory authority. More often a judge will use this for a downward departure and give the offender less time, but it can also be used to give more time if the judge so chooses.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 1 month ago

A judge can't do an upward durational departure. That's unconstitutional. I would expect all of the lawyers involved in this (especially the judge) would know that.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 1 month ago

They sure can. I expect the attorneys will appeal. We will see if it holds.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 1 month ago

No, they can't. Apprendi v. New Jersey was the 1999 Supreme Court case that said any facts except prior convictions that increase the prison term must be proven to a jury. State v. Gould was the 2001 Kansas Supreme Court case that said this case applied to our upward durational departure scheme and declared our statute unconstitutional. Now, the only way an upward durational departure sentence can be imposed is if a jury finds aggravating facts.

I don't recall there being any mention of this jury finding those aggravators. The judge, as she is allowed to do, made the findings of an upward dispositional departure, changing the sentence from probation to prison. But that finding can't be used to increase the prison sentence.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 1 month ago

It sure was done. I have seen it done at least two times before and it was upheld. There was a motion at trial requesting this be considered. A hearing was held on the matter and the judge ruled.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 1 month ago

No. It can't be done this way. The motion that Judge Kittel ruled on in this case was for a dispositional departure. A judge has discretion to departure dispositionally, from probation to prison. But a judge can't depart durationally to increase the prison term. A durational departure HAS to go through a jury. Both by statute and by constitutional standards.

I can think of two other recent Lawrence cases where prosecutors at least thought about pursuing an upward durational departure, though I think in both cases the DA ultimately decided not to pursue the departure. In both of those cases, though, it was clear that everyone understood those aggravating factors to justify the departure would have to go to the jury.

An upward durational departure cannot be done by a judge; it MUST go through a jury.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 1 month ago

It just happened. Now it will go to appeal. Either way the woman will be in jail during the process.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 1 month ago

So it doesn't bother you to think that the district attorney and the judge were wrong on the law? If this case went exactly as it was reported and there isn't a fact missing, then the judge just illegally sentenced this woman to double the term she should have received. That's unacceptable.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 1 month ago

For far too long sexual predators have walked away with a slap on the hand. These people destroy lives. It is time the justice systems finally starts getting hard on them. The thing here that is unacceptable are the people who commit these crimes.

jharvey009 4 years, 1 month ago

wow really you think that the sentence should be less these two should be thrown in the prison yards and let the prison population take it from there

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 1 month ago

I think the sentence should be in compliance with the law. From what I've read reported, I am concerned this one isn't.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

I agree. However, isn't the option of probation versus prison time up to the judge? Yes, probation is a guideline but if the prosecution and the judge determine that mitigating factors warrant it, wouldn't prison time be within the purview of the judge? I don't see anything within the article that states that length of sentence was affected, only that she would spend the time in prison and not on probation. Am I wrong?

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 1 month ago

The judge did get to decide prison over probation, as she is allowed to do. The articles have all said she had no criminal history. All of these crimes are severity level 9 felonies. On the sentencing grid, the sentencing range for a level 9 felony with no criminal history is 7-6-5 months. So 7 months is the max per count. Because of another sentencing rule, even when counts are run consecutively, the sentence caps at twice the length of the top count. So the absolute maximum prison term should have been 14 months. The judge simply does not have the authority on her own to increase that term.

An upward departure can double that maximum, getting it to 28. But that can only happen if a jury finds aggravating factors, which didn't happen here. I'm worried that the parties all thought that the judge had authority not just to grant the switch from probation to prison but also the increased prison time.

RushIsRight 4 years, 1 month ago

This has nothing to do with fundamentalist Christians. It has everything to do with two people who took advantage of children they were trusted with. To blame the fundamentalist churches for this is the same as blaming a spoon for making Michael Moore fat.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 4 years, 1 month ago

"two of them will never get their purity back"

"Purity" cannot be taken from you. You have to willingly surrender that. They've lost much, but not their purity. I hope that's not what they are hearing at home.

RobertMarble 4 years, 1 month ago

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Slaphappy 4 years, 1 month ago

This reminds me of an old Christian favorite.

Husband Store

A store that sells new husbands has opened in New York City , where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the value of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The shopper may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband. On the first floor the sign on the door reads:

Floor 1 - These men Have Jobs

She is intrigued, but continues to the second floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 2 - These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.

'That's nice,' she thinks, 'but I want more.'

So she continues upward. The third floor sign reads:

Floor 3 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, and are Extremely Good Looking.

'Wow,' she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the fourth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 4 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help With Housework.

'Oh, mercy me!' she exclaims, 'I can hardly stand it!'

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 5 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, Help with Housework, and Have a Strong Romantic Streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 6 - You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.

PLEASE NOTE:

To avoid gender bias charges, the store's owner opened a new Wives Store just across the street.

The first floor has wives that love sex.

The second floor has wives that love sex and have money and like beer.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors have never been visited.

tanaumaga 4 years, 1 month ago

you are wasting air for somebody else that needs it more ...and your heart is full of dirty socks.

rockchalker52 4 years, 1 month ago

I love this! Joe Flannery, are you listening?

Don Whiteley 4 years, 1 month ago

In urban communities, no one holds residents responsible for telling law enforcement officials about robbery, murder, rape, drugs or any of the hundreds of laws broken daily by street gangs. Why? Because they live in fear of reprisal from the street gangs. But when a woman is placed in the situation where she lives in fear of her husband, the law says she must be held responsible. Frankly, I don't get it. If there was factual proof that she participated, which I don't see anywhere in the article, then that's an entirely different matter. If she just knew and didn't tell, then she's no different than the thousand of urban residents who keep their mouthes shut about the activity of street gangs.

anonyname 4 years, 1 month ago

'If there was factual proof that she participated, which I don't see anywhere in the article, then that's an entirely different matter.' RTFA.

"Natasha Brown was convicted of lewd and lascivious behavior for lifting her skirt and exposing her genitalia to the children." The article does not give proof directly, but the jury/judge saw proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict.

asbury 4 years, 1 month ago

Being a survivor of sexual abuse myself, I will never in any way endorse such behavior....However, I also no how trapped a woman in an abusive relationship feels....Unfortunatly been there, done that too. I feel certain that she was very much afraid to tell anyone anything.....This woman appears to be very submissive, with very low self esteem....She actually hangs her head.....The whole situation is very, very sad for all involved.....except, perhaps Mr. Brown who appears to know exactly what he was doing.

denak 4 years, 1 month ago

Nonsense. We need to get away from this thinking that if a woman is involved in a crime and she is partnered with a man, that somehow, she too is a victim. She isn't a victim. She was the willing participant in the abuse of these two young girls. Lets keep the focus on the real victims here and not make victims out of individual who do not deserve our sympathy.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

"two of them will never get their purity back"

I was very disturbed by that statement. I really hope these little girls aren't being treated like "soiled goods" by their own parents because they were sexually assaulted. These girls are going to need intensive therapy. Somehow, I have the feeling they aren't going to get it or what they do get is going to be worse than none at all.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm thinking that was just a poor choice of words. This family has gone through alot and a serious trust was violated. The girl's mother & father are not required to speak about this. They still have one ore tiral to go so let's not start picking them apart now. This isn't a debate, it is about real lives that were affected in a very serious way.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

I agree Artie. I went through something similar with one of my own daughters. The man that assaulted her went to prison for ten years. I'm not talking out of my hat here. The very first thing I did was get her into therapy and it was the very best thing I have ever done. Poor choice of words or not it's an indication of how at least the mother, the most important female in the lives of those little girls, thinks. Here's hoping her thinking changes with time.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 1 month ago

Therapy can help the victim understand that what happened is not their fault but it doesn't solve everything. I am thankful for these girls that the minister knew what to do when the parents came to him. The most important thing that was taken from these girls is the freedom to trust another. This is a challenge they will carry for the rest of their lives Sometimes they will be able to trust and sometimes they won't. I know you have not liked this when I have said it in the past, but I do expect more from women in these situations. This woman is a shame to all women by allowing this to happen and by participating in it. I don't care if her husband bashed her head into the wall every day,she could have called someone between beatings.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm going to go out a on limb here and assume that there were evaluations completed while this woman has been in custody. If that were the case one would think her attorney would have brought the point up. The woman admitted she knew he was doing this and that she in fact participated at a certain level. She also admitted she could have reported this but did not. No sympathy.

farmgal 4 years, 1 month ago

OldEnuf2BYurDad, maybe by the use of the word purity, the mother meant that they now have an STD? don't know, just a guess. hope that's not the case though.

farmgal 4 years, 1 month ago

yes, repndem_natives, it certainly is gross when some loser rapes young girls. besides the emotional and physical damage, there is the risk of STDs, which no one ever seems to talk about, but is the reality of life in such cases.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 1 month ago

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slowplay 4 years, 1 month ago

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kernal 4 years, 1 month ago

What about all the child abusers and preditors who are atheists? It has little to do with religion and more to do with lack of morals.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 1 month ago

Hmmm... That's an interesting thought. Ya think?

aa469285 4 years, 1 month ago

And while we're at it, let's ban mosques for they are clearly a breeding ground for terrorism.

You're with me aren't you? Otherwise you're a hypocrite.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 1 month ago

Of course. I am with you and hundreds of others on this site who make this argument daily.

LoveThsLife 4 years, 1 month ago

".....their mother said in a letter read in court. “And two of them will never get their purity back.” "

This comment bothered me too. I hope that is not the attitude that is being communicated to them at home because of what happened.

Best wishes to the family, this is a traumatic thing to deal with. I hope all of them get the support and help they need to work through this in a healthy manner.

kernal 4 years, 1 month ago

As long as they understand that purity also means free from fault or moral guilt.

boater63 4 years, 1 month ago

i feel its wrong that one da will slap the hand of a person who holds a hot lighter to her special needs childs testicals while singing chestnuts roasting over an open fire. while in the cubaical in the same room another da is sending a person to prison for something she didnt do herself but on the other side of this case the husband will get a lighter sentince than her for meslesting the two girls

Amy Heeter 4 years, 1 month ago

She did do something she covered for him and she showed her genitals to the girls. I do agree about the other situation but have not heard anything on that case

begin60 4 years, 1 month ago

What about the local cops (especially those affliated with KU) and powers-that- be in Douglas County who are supposed to have a relationship of trust with the community, but whose "investigations" are totally stacked and rigged by the sordid conflict -of- interest politics that rule in Lawrence? This set-up is nearly as abusive and incestuous as the alleged facts of this case--- but it's all hidden and swept under the rug. I scorn hypocrites with double standards who aggressively point fingers of blame at others.

begin60 4 years, 1 month ago

Thank you for the suggestion. If I wanted to be more polite and understated perhaps I would have said "nepotism," but I was going for the more stomach-turning aspect. Conflicts-of-interest in places like KS do border on the incestuous, plus a case could be made that sex with underaged kids ignores the in loco parentis--in place of parents-- role of the involved adults.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

Where are people getting that they told the pastor first? I haven't seen that in either article on the case or am I missing something? Be that as it may, by Kansas state law ministers (along with doctors, nurses, teachers, counselors and therapists) are what are called "mandatory reporters". If they learn of abuse or observe signs of abuse they must report it to LE or face criminal charges themselves. (That's if they're honest. I actually have seen so called ministers turn a blind eye to obvious signs of physical abuse and ignore it for the sake of "peace" within their congregation.) As for the woman convicted of this; I don't have a choice but to blame her for her behavior. She didn't just stay quiet, out of fear or denial, she participated and by her own admission saw her husband as "sexually grooming" the girls. Sorry, but in this case the "I didn't know it was wrong" or "I was afraid of my husband" defense won't work.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

Thanks. I didn't see that. I wonder how much time elapsed between the parents telling the minister and the minister notifying LE?

asbury 4 years, 1 month ago

Well, the "I didn't know it was wrong" defense obviously doesn't work, and what I read is that she "owned " her behavior in court......The "I was afraid of my husband" defense probably does work, and probably was true.....I don't know this woman personally, but I have observed her behaviors as I stated earlier. Cait, I'm thinkging that you have been blessed with a very good upbringing and well balanced healthy adult relationships, because it appears that you just don't grasp the concept of true fear in an abused spouse. I'm not saying she shoudln't have been punished, or even that her sentence is out of line....I would guess that Ms. Brown would probably just like to know that there are women who know who understand what it's like to be caught up in the grips of someone she is terrified of.

asbury 4 years, 1 month ago

Let me make it very clear that I believe they should both be punished, and I assume the husbands sentence will be more harsh.....once you have been violated as a child, I don't know that any amount of therepy will ever truly take the trauma away....and for the record, I do hope the parents are not drumming into these two girls heads that the are "soiled"......Believe me, they already feel that way, and need all the support and encouragement that their parents can manage to dig up.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

I guess I was blessed, asbury. The one time my dad hit my mom she rolled him up in a blanket when he was asleep and beat the holy heck out of him. She told him if he ever laid a hand on her in violence again she would kill him. And she meant it. I saw him raise his hand at her one time after that and she got very still and just said, "I wouldn't if I were you." He dropped his hand. My dad was no milktoast and had just as strong of a personality as she did but she laid the ground rules early and he stuck to them. I have been married three times (death, divorce and current) and have never had a husband abuse me or even threaten to hit me, despite the fact that I know I can be trying at times. My second husband and I had truly horrible fights before we separated but it never got physical. I have been assaulted and raped; horribly so, and I've talked about it on this forum. But I have never had to "sleep with the enemy". I guess in that respect I have been very lucky.

nixon00 4 years, 1 month ago

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kujayhawk 4 years, 1 month ago

Her husband will get what he deserves.

tanaumaga 4 years, 1 month ago

even hardened criminals in the penal system despise child molesters.....he'll get what he deserves, and then some....and then go to sleep, and then repeat it all over again the next day, and the next, and the next......

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