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Published: Thursday, 5/1/2008

Minister receives probation

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Richard Brown, right, leaves Lucas County Common Pleas Court after sentencing. Richard Brown, right, leaves Lucas County Common Pleas Court after sentencing.
JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

An associate minister and onetime school board candidate who was sentenced yesterday for showing pornography to minors and encouraging others to have sex for money claimed the accusations against him were fabricated.

Minutes after receiving a suspended six-month jail sentence in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, Richard Brown III, 34, lashed out at the county prosecutor's office and police who investigated him.

"These are erroneous charges. I'm glad that it's over with," he said outside the courtroom.

Mr. Brown, who was facing up to 18 months in prison, was placed on probation for two years. Judge Linda Jennings also ordered him to pay a $500 fine, perform 100 hours of community service, undergo psychological evaluation, and stay away from the victims.

The punishment stems from no-contest pleas he entered March 28 in a plea agreement to two counts of procuring prostitution and one count of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, all misdemeanors.

Mr. Brown, an associate minister at Friendship Baptist Church, was an endorsed Democrat for the Toledo school board seat in the 2007 election, but withdrew his candidacy before the election. Judge Jennings told Mr. Brown he's been generous in the community and a positive influence, but the "indiscretions have placed a cloud over these good things you have done."

Defense attorney Ron Wingate said his client, who had no criminal record, was a good candidate for probation and would comply with any terms and conditions that Judge Jennings would order.

Prosecutors said Mr. Brown, whose address is listed on court documents as 1146 Hamilton St., sent e-mails to male acquaintances on his computer between 2001 and 2003 to set up sexual encounters for the men with men and women.

They said he allowed minor boys whom he met through his volunteer work at the church to view pornographic DVDs.

Investigators found numerous pornographic images on the computer that was taken from the defendant's home.

In a statement after the sentencing, Mr. Brown said the e-mails were sent to friends years ago, and the incident of showing pornography to minors "could have been a lapse in adult supervision."

"I am innocent of these charges," the statement said. "The prosecutor's office and the detective involved have tried to imply that there was some sort of sexual misconduct or it was related to children. I view today's court proceedings as a victory when it comes to proving my innocence."

But county Assistant Prosecutor Tim Braun invited the media to review the pornography and e-mails seized from Mr. Brown's computer. "The procurement charges were based on things that he had in his e-mails. We didn't make that up. I'm sure he wants to deny it at this point," he said.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 734-241-3610.



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