A judge upheld last Thursday a jury’s recommendation of 15 years in prison for a Ruckersville man found guilty of three counts of solicitation of a juvenile between 15-17 years old and one count of possession of child pornography.
Retired Judge Daniel Bouton presided in both the trial on May 30 and sentencing on Sept. 12 in Greene County Circuit Court.
In addition to upholding the 15-year sentence recommended by the jury of five women and seven men, Bouton added three years’ suspended on each of the four counts, per state code 19.2-295.2.
Brown contacted a 16-year-old Greene County girl and requested nude photos through Facebook Messenger in late April 2018. Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Morgane Zander said during trial that Brown knew the victim’s age and that she was a special needs classmate of his own sister.
The victim’s father testified last week that he learned of the communication when he entered her room and she tried to shut her laptop.
“I discovered stuff I didn’t think was appropriate,” the father said.
He went on to say during the sentencing hearing that the incident has impacted his daughter, saying she has anxiety, emotional outbursts and wears “layers and layers of clothing” when going to school.
“She is fearful he is going to get out and come hurt me,” he said. “She has made that statement several times.
Her father contacted the Greene County Sheriff’s Office and Investigator Jason Tooley took over the victim’s Facebook account on April 23, 2018, communicating with Brown as if he were the young girl.
Tooley testified that during his discussions with the defendant via Facebook Messenger that Brown asked for nude photos repeatedly.
Greene County Commonwealth Attorney Matthew Hardin argued Sept. 12 that the jury was the “voice of the community” and Brown should be given the maximum sentence they imposed: two years in prison for the first count of solicitation, three years for the second and five years for the third, as well as five years for the child pornography charge.
After the trial, a psychosexual evaluation of Brown was completed at the request of the commonwealth.
David Randle, Brown’s attorney, told the judge he agreed the jury is the “voice of the community” but there was information in that report that they jury didn’t have.
“He does not appear to be driven by sexual deviance” or have a preference for young girls, Randle noted the report said. “What we don’t have here is someone likely to get out and reoffend.”
Hardin noted the report also says Brown appeared to have no remorse and maintained his innocence during the evaluation.
“[The victim] and her family have suffered considerably,” Judge Bouton said. “It does concern the court that she was particularly vulnerable. The case illustrates the dangers of social media and the internet.”
Brown has 30 days to appeal, Judge Bouton said.