Sexual abuse conviction upheld

By Eddie Mowen Jr. -

EATON — An Eaton man’s conviction on sexual abuse charges was upheld by the appeals court and his 10-years-to-life sentence will be imposed on Wednesday, July 5.

According to Preble County Prosecutor Martin Votel, on June 12, the Twelfth District Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of Larry E. Brown II, 45, who was previously convicted after a trial in April 2016. Brown was convicted following a three-day bench trial presided over by Judge David Abruzzo.

By written decision, Judge Abruzzo found Brown guilty of five counts: rape of a child under 13; sexual battery; gross sexual imposition involving a child under age 13; gross sexual imposition involving force or threat of force; and importuning.

The State of Ohio was represented by Valerie Sargent Eckert, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney.

The victim (age 16 at the time of trial) was a former family member who disclosed in November 2014 that she had been subjected to on-going sexual abuse by Brown for a two-year period preceding her 13th birthday, according to Votel. The victim alleged that Brown had kissed and fondled her, and that he had forced her to perform sex acts on occasions when Brown had taken the child with him to ”work” on the farm of Brown’s friend.

“The evidence showed that Brown had been a trusted family member and had gained the child’s trust and compliance through promises and threats to kill her family. The child victim admitted she had been a difficult child to raise, offering that Brown’s sexual abuse had caused her psychological distress,” Votel said in a press release.

The evidence at trial established that the child victim had kept a diary — a written record of her thoughts and experiences during the period of sexual abuse. This journal was found by the child’s mother in 2012, and was introduced as evidence at trial, along with the testimony of several witnesses familiar with the family situation. At trial, Brown admitted that he had hugged and kissed the girl on the lips, but denied that this behavior was inappropriate and denied all of the alleged sexual abuse.

Brown waived his right to a trial by jury, instead choosing to try the case the court.

Judge Abruzzo found, after consideration of the testimony and evidence, that the child’s testimony was credible and sufficient to convict Brown of the charged offenses. Brown was sentenced on June 14, 2016, to an indefinite prison term of 10 years-to-life (making him eligible for parole after ten years), but his sentence was stayed pending an appeal to the Twelfth District, and the defendant remained free on bond, according to Votel.

In its four-page decision, the Twelfth District Court of Appeals found that Brown’s convictions should be affirmed, finding that the trial had committed no error in refusing to grant Brown a new trial. The appellate court also found that Brown’s counsel, James W. Thomas, had rendered adequate legal representation throughout all proceedings. The matter has now been scheduled for hearing on July 5, 2017 at 1:00 p.m., when the stay on Brown’s sentence will be removed and the defendant will be remanded to the custody of the state prison system.

“Valerie Sargent-Eckert did an absolutely excellent job presenting this case,” Votel said. “Cases of child sexual abuse are among the most difficult to prosecute — they present unique challenges in the courtroom and they take a psychological toll on all involved. But they are also among the most important cases we prosecute. Children are naturally inclined to trust adults. When an adult abuses this trust to facilitate sexual abuse, it’s a heinous violation of both law and human decency.”

“While a lengthy prison term can’t reclaim a child’s innocence, it can protect children from sexual abuse, it can punish an offender, and it can send the message that our community won’t abide such predation on our most vulnerable members,” Votel concluded.

By Eddie Mowen Jr.

Reach Eddie Mowen at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.

Reach Eddie Mowen at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.