PROVO — The father of The 5 Browns — his face scratched with injuries from a spectacular Monday auto accident — pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually abusing his daughters when they were children.
Keith Brown, 55, appeared very solemn and serious during his appearance. He was just recently released from the hospital where he was treated for injuries from a Monday night accident in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
In a voice barely audible, Brown pleaded guilty to sodomy on a child, a first-degree felony, and two counts of sex abuse of a child, a second-degree felony.
Brown will be sentenced March 31 at 10 a.m. Prosecutors will recommend that he spend 10 years to life in prison.
The charges against him were only filed last week. But police have been working on the case for months, and the resulting charges and Thursday's plea were part of an agreement reached between prosecutors, Brown's attorney and his daughters — Desirae, 32; Deondra, 30; and Melody, 26.
Brown's attorney, Steve Shapiro, said he has been having discussions with prosecutors about the case for past six months.
"Today was the next step in a very long process that Keith has been going through to accept responsibility," Shapiro said. "He's terribly remorseful for what has happened and what he's put his family through."
Shapiro said his client first went to his LDS bishop to confess the abuse. But prosecutor David Sturgill said it was the daughters who first reported the abuse to police.
In a statement released late Thursday, a spokesman for the 5 Brown said the daughters initiated the case against their father. "The women were motivated to approach law enforcement out of concern for the welfare and protection of other young women and girls," Kimball Thomson said.
He said the daughters are "at peace" with the agreement and "relieved and grateful to close this chapter in their lives."
The sodomy charge stemmed from oral sex incidents that occurred between November 1990 and October 1992, according to prosecutors. Since the crimes occurred in the early '90s, Brown can only be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years to life in prison because of the law 20 years ago. If this incident had occurred today, Brown would be facing 25 years to life in prison, Sturgill said.
The other two sexual abuse of a child charges were for fondling incidents between 1990 and 1992 and during 1997 and 1998.
"This wasn't a single incident that occurred between him and each of the girls," Sturgill said. "It was ongoing, and it happened more than once."
All of the girls were 13 or younger when the incidents occurred, Shapiro said.
Just four days after the charges were filed, Brown and his wife, Lisa, were seriously injured when their vehicle plummeted about 500 feet off the main road and into Little Cottonwood Creek while they were returning from having dinner at Snowbird. It took rescuers more than two hours to locate the Browns and carry them to waiting medical helicopters.
Shapiro insisted Thursday that the crash was accidental because Brown was driving too fast for conditions.
Lisa Brown remained hospitalized Thursday. Keith Brown was released from the hospital Tuesday.
"Both sides wanted it resolved rather quickly," Sturgill said of the criminal case. "It was a good resolution. I believe the victims are happy with the plea bargain."
Sturgill said the victims wanted their father to take responsibility for his actions and wanted a punishment that was suitable to the crimes and he arranged the plea deal accordingly.
When pleading guilty, Brown assured the judge he wasn't taking any pain medication and was thinking clearly despite his car crash days earlier. Shapiro confirmed his client was no longer on any painkillers.
Brown — who had visible cuts above his eye, on both cheeks and under his chin — was not taken into custody after the hearing, which had been part of the negotiations. He seemed emotional, but declined to speak to reporters after the hearing. His sister-in-law, who walked in and out with Brown, also declined to comment.75 comments on this story
The three Brown women severed their professional relationship with their father in October of 2008. He was once the manager of The 5 Browns but now has no connection, a spokesman for the group said.
Wednesday, The 5 Browns posted a video on their Facebook page. The video shows the group walking around what appears to be New York's Central Park while talking about the joy they have in playing music and how much they enjoy their siblings.
At the end of the video, there is a message stating, "One of our greatest sources of joy and satisfaction in life is the opportunity to share our music together and with fellow music lovers throughout the world. Thank you to our friends and supporters for their concern and prayers on our behalf during this trying time."
A spokesman for the group said the piano playing siblings would fulfill their full touring schedule and no shows would be canceled despite the recent events.