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Judge rejects proposed sentence for Leechburg sex offender

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

An Armstrong County judge on Tuesday rejected the district attorney's sentencing recommendation of probation for a 36-year-old man who pleaded guilty in May to indecent assault of a 4-year-old girl.

William Kenneth Brown, formerly from Leechburg and now living in Kittanning, appeared before President Judge Kenneth Valasek for his sentence hearing on the misdemeanor he was charged with committing in his Leechburg home in January 2013.

During Tuesday's proceedings, the victim's father addressed the court about how the crime affected his daughter. He paused frequently to steady his voice.

“It wasn't a one-time offense,” he said. “Every time she goes to sleep and has a nightmare, she is victimized again.”

The Leader Times does not identify children who are victims of sexual crimes.

The victim's mother testified that she knows Brown and she and her daughter had spent time at his home in the past. The affidavit of probable cause said Brown touched the girl inappropriately in his bedroom while the girl's mother was downstairs getting a drink of water during one of those visits.

“I feel like it's my fault that I didn't protect her,” she said of her daughter — who is now 6 and who was not in the courtroom.

“She's been forced to be more of an adult than a child. It's impacted our family and ripped us all apart,” she said. “I don't think the recommended sentence is harsh enough.”

Both parents said they were unaware of that Brown had been offered a deal of probation and no jail time in exchange for his guilty plea. But the family had earlier consented to working out a plea agreement to avoid having their daughter go through additional trauma at trial.

“If there is not a trial, there will be a plea agreement — you can't have it both ways,” Judge Valasek said.

After taking a short recess, the judge delayed the sentencing hearing until Aug. 26.

“I'm going to give your client the opportunity to withdraw the plea because I don't intend to go along with the plea agreement,” Judge Valasek told James Wray, Brown's attorney.

If Brown goes to trial, he will be tried on two felony charges that would have been dismissed at sentencing as part of the plea agreement. Those charges include indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age and aggravated indecent assault of a child.

Outside the courtroom, Wray said he will have to consult with Brown about whether he wishes to withdraw the plea and let the case go to trial, or continue with sentencing next month.

“Everything is pretty vague at this point,” he said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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