31 Oct 2010

Utah Boy Scout leader pleads guilty to child sex abuse

The Daily Herald - Utah June 17, 2009

by Janice Peterson | Daily Herald

AMERICAN FORK -- A former Boy Scout leader pleaded guilty in American Fork's 4th District Court on Tuesday to multiple counts of sexual abuse.

Gary Wade Brown, 42, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual abuse of a child and sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree felonies, and one count of lewdness involving a child, a class A misdemeanor. Seven additional charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Prosecutor Julia Thomas said the events took place between 2005 and 2006, in which Brown touched a 13-year-old boy's genitals and made the boy touch him.

"And that did happen on at least four occasions," Thomas said.

Brown also took illicit photos of the boy at least once and then deleted them after looking at the photos with the boy. He now faces a sentence of one to 15 years for each second-degree felony and one year in jail for the misdemeanor charge when he is sentenced July 28. Thomas said several family members of Brown and the victim plan to speak at the sentencing hearing. Brown will also now be required to register as a sex offender, which Thomas said was important to the prosecution because Brown abused his position as a Scout leader.

Thomas said prosecutors have agreed to not actively seek a prison term for Brown, but the victim's family may affect the judge's decision on the sentence. Prison or jail may be a good place for Brown, as it is easier to comply with treatment, she said.

"The most important thing was to get treatment for Mr. Brown," Thomas said. "He clearly is in need of it."

Repayment for any costs for the victim's treatment will likely remain open. Thomas said the boy was prepared to testify if the case went to trial, but the incident affected him immensely.

"I think the parents' viewpoint of it is it would have been traumatic for him," she said.

Brown's attorney, Shelden Carter, said there is no agreement on a sentencing recommendation. However, he said part of the agreement was to lower the sexual abuse charges down from a first-degree felony, which greatly reduces Brown's possible prison term. A first-degree felony can carry a life-term.

Carter said he intends to recommend sentencing that involves treatment for Brown. The man cooperated with authorities and has tried to be transparent and accountable for his actions. Carter said he believes Brown is a low to moderate risk to the public and wants to be treated.

"We need to do issues with therapy," he said.

Brown has been cooperative so far and has tried to get the case taken care of quickly, Carter said. His plea Tuesday comes less than six months after he was originally charged in January.

"He's being considerate of the other family's issues and trying to bring them closure," Carter said.

In the hallway after the hearing, family members of Brown and his victim stood together talking, some crying. Carter said the families have had contact during the case through a third party. The boy's family are good people, Carter said, and they ought to be commended for their kindness and humanity despite difficult circumstances.

"The young boy's family has said some nice things that you wouldn't expect," he said.

Thomas said the case has been hard for both families, who have known each other for some time. Brown was married with children, and such charges are difficult for them as well. Thomas said the families have remained friendly through the ordeal.

"I think they all have each others' best interests at heart," she said.

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