Lawrence man pleads guilty to rape, aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child

Donald Brown entered a guilty plea Friday to the eight charges he faced. He also admitted to the judge he sexually abused two girls in his Lawrence apartment.

A 33-year-old Lawrence man has pleaded guilty to eight charges and admitted he sexually abused two girls at his northern Lawrence home over a two-year period.

“I did this for my own sexual gratification, and I’m truly sorry,” Donald L. Brown said in court Friday morning when he entered the pleas.

Brown faced a Jan. 24 trial in the case on eight counts. He pleaded guilty to three counts of rape, three counts of aggravated criminal sodomy and two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

District Judge Peggy Kittel said each count carries a penalty of 25 years to life in prison.

His attorney, Michael Clarke, said Brown decided to plead guilty several weeks ago, but he was fasting for nutritional reasons at the time. So Clarke asked him to wait closer to the trial to decide.

There was no plea agreement in the case with prosecutor Amy McGowan, a chief assistant district attorney, Clarke said.

Kittel last month sentenced Brown’s wife, Natasha M. Brown, 34, to serve 28 months in prison after a jury in October convicted her of two counts of aggravated child endangerment and one count of lewd and lascivious behavior. The girls are now 9 and 11 years old.

Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said prosecutors were happy with the pleas and the fact the girls would not have to testify again.

“We would not have been able to reach this outcome without the solid investigative work of law enforcement and the bravery of the victims to confront their abuser,” Branson said.

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 Donald Brown of having sex with them. Lawrence police later arrested the Browns.

The girls and their siblings would stay with the Browns in Lawrence on weekends or during the week in between school and church events.

During Natasha Brown’s trial, both girls testified to several instances when Donald Brown had sex with them and molested them from June 2008 to May 2010. Prosecutors also said Natasha Brown told police she thought her husband was sexually “grooming” the girls.

Kittel gave Natasha Brown a harsher sentence — normally the convictions warranted probation due to her lack of criminal history — because she said Brown did nothing to try to stop the abuse even though the girls’ parents entrusted them to the Browns.

Kittel is scheduled to sentence Donald Brown March 4.