Lawrence man to face trial in child sex crime case

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

The Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, which houses Douglas County District Court and a number of other criminal justice services at 111 E. 11th St., is pictured April 8, 2020.

A Lawrence man will stand trial in a child sex crime case that has been pending for almost a year, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Bryon L. Brouhard, 22, was initially charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy. At the prosecutor’s request, Douglas County District Court Judge Amy Hanley bound Brouhard over on three counts of the same charge after a preliminary hearing.

Two young boys reportedly told a relative in June 2019 that Brouhard had touched them inappropriately. A little more than a month later, during a regular checkup, the relative asked a doctor to examine the boys for sexual assault. The doctor then made a report to the state Department for Children and Families, though the examinations did not show any signs of abuse, according to testimony.

Detective Don Hicks of the Lawrence Police Department, who was assigned as a juvenile investigator at the time, received the report from DCF and interviewed the boys. Prosecutor Alice Walker and defense attorney Branden Smith had agreed to ask the judge to view recordings of the boys’ interviews with Hicks prior to the court hearing, which was livestreamed over YouTube.

Hicks shared some of what the boys told him during their interview. One boy reportedly said that Brouhard had orally and digitally molested him; the other boy reportedly said at first that the first boy had touched him, but then said Brouhard had done so.

On cross-examination, Hicks said one of the boys had also said that a woman had also had sex with him, though he didn’t want to. He also reportedly told Hicks that Brouhard had tried to stab him once, but he “caught the knife.”

Hicks said he had interviewed Brouhard a few months later, and Brouhard had denied everything. That was despite Hicks trying “every trick in the book to get him to admit something,” Smith asked, and the detective agreed.

When Brouhard was arrested, the relative reportedly asked one of the boys again if what he had said was true, and the boy said it was not true, Hicks testified. Hicks said he had not interviewed the boys again himself because he had learned through his training that it was possible for children to recant their statements, especially when they’re under pressure.

Brouhard has been in custody of the Douglas County Jail on $100,000 cash or surety bond since he was arrested Jan. 22, 2020, jail records show. At the end of Wednesday’s hearing, Smith asked Hanley to consider modifying Brouhard’s bond so that he could be released on house arrest with electronic monitoring, since the pandemic has delayed jury trials and it could be several more months before Brouhard could get a trial.

Smith said he believed house arrest would still ensure the safety of the community, but Brouhard’s family did not have $10,000 to pay a bondsman to bail him out. Walker opposed, saying that the state believed the bond was appropriate given the facts of the case and that Brouhard had just been bound over for trial.

Hanley noted that Brouhard had requested multiple continuances, which have contributed to his pretrial incarceration. She asked for more information from Smith, but she said she would consider the request and probably make a ruling in writing.

Brouhard pleaded not guilty to all three counts Wednesday. His next court date is a scheduling conference set for Feb. 10.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office declined to release Brouhard’s booking photo to the Journal-World.

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