Former Free State High School paraeducator granted probation for sex crimes against 2 teen girls
photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World
Updated at 3:23 p.m. Friday, March 24, 2023
A former Free State High School paraeducator was granted probation Friday in Douglas County District Court for lewd touching of a teenage girl and for sexually exploiting another.
Jalil Lynn Brown, 30, of Lawrence, entered a no contest plea on Sept. 28, 2022, to one felony count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and one felony count of sexual exploitation of a child. The two girls were between the ages of 14 and 16 at the time of the incidents, which occurred sometime between March of 2021 and January of 2022.
Brown originally faced an additional four felony counts of sexual exploitation and one felony count of electronic solicitation, but those charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement with the state, as the Journal-World previously reported.
In addition to the dismissal of other charges, the state agreed as part of the plea deal to support a motion for departure from prison to probation that was filed by Brown’s attorney, Branden Smith. The aggravated indecent liberties charge is a level-4 felony and comes with a presumptive prison sentence no matter the criminal history of the defendant, according to Kansas sentencing guidelines.
Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden asked the court to honor the plea agreement and the departure just before he read letters to the court from Brown’s victims.
“I thought I had a friend. Someone to help me with homework or with money problems. I didn’t know that money was for my body,” Seiden read from the letter of the girl who was exploited.
She’s now age 18, and she wrote that she has done what she could in the last two years to forget what Brown did to her, but the memory still haunts her every day.
“He doesn’t deserve to sit and know how I feel,” she wrote.
She wrote that the experience had left her physically and emotionally drained and that she had lost herself just as she was coming into adulthood.
“I wonder if I’ll ever be the same. I have nothing left in me,” she wrote.
Seiden then read a letter from Brown’s second victim. Her message was one of defiance in the face of her abuser.
“I was a strong 14-year-old and I was a strong 15-year-old. You don’t get to feel bad because you ruined a part of my life. How much control do you have over me? None,” she wrote.
She wrote that she has always been over-sexualized by men and that she has developed an impression that men “are the devil” and she wonders if she is Brown’s only victim.
“Was it because I am small? Because I am quiet? Do you think I forgot your hands on my thigh? You, Jalil Brown, no longer scare me. I hope you take this message and never do this to anyone again,” she wrote.
In a news release later Friday, the District Attorney’s Office said that the victims supported the plea deal granting the departure to probation. The release said all parties had participated in an “Independent Assessment Conference” with a mediator.
“The young women in this case played an active role in holding Mr. Brown accountable for his crimes,” District Attorney Suzanne Valdez said in the release. “Too often, survivors in these types of crimes have their victimization weaponized against them. Both young women demonstrated tremendous strength and our hope is that today’s outcome will help them in their healing.”
Smith argued for Brown to receive probation and said that Brown has been in regular therapy sessions for the last few months and that his counselor had sent a letter to the court stating that he is a good candidate for rehabilitation and is not likely to re-offend.
Brown spoke briefly for himself and apologized to his victims.
“I was in a mentor position, and I let the kids and the faculty down. I want a chance to show the victims that I am more than this case,” Brown said.
Judge Amy Hanley said she would grant the departure to probation because the state had supported it in the plea agreement, because of the letter written by Brown’s counselor, because Brown has no prior felony convictions and because he seems amenable to rehabilitation.
“I do expect full and complete compliance with your probation,” Hanley said.
She sentenced Brown to 41 months in prison for the aggravated indecent liberties charge and 32 months in prison for the exploitation charge for a total of 73 months, just over six years, which she suspended to 36 months, or three years, of probation, in accordance with the plea agreement. Brown will also be required to register as a sex offender, Hanley said.
As the Journal-World previously reported, Brown worked as a special education paraeducator at Lawrence Free State High School from Sept. 9, 2019, until his termination on Jan. 25, 2022, according to the Lawrence school district.
At Brown’s plea hearing in September, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum said that the aggravated indecent liberties charge was connected to an incident on Jan. 15, 2022, when Brown gave a 15-year-old girl a ride to a friend’s house and while the girl was in the back seat he reached back from the driver’s seat and groped the girl’s leg in a sexual way.
Tatum said the exploitation charge was related to a video that Brown had on his phone when it was seized by police that showed another girl under the age of 18 in the nude.
Brown was held on a $100,000 cash or surety bond for six months after his arrest on April 28, 2022, but was released on an own-recognizance bond in October 2022, meaning he was not required to put up any money to be released from jail but could have been charged the $100,000 if he failed to appear in court.
photo by: Mugshot courtesy of KBI Sex Offender Registry