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5 Browns father sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for abusing daughters

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PROVO — Keith Brown knew before he even got to the courthouse Thursday that he was going to prison for sexually abusing his three daughters who make up 3/5 of the classical piano-playing group the 5 Browns.

As part of an agreed-upon plea and punishment, Brown, 55, was given a 10-years-to-life sentence for sodomy on a child, a first-degree felony, and sentences of one to 15 years for each of two counts of sex abuse of a child, a second-degree felony.

The man sat alone in the courtroom until his case was called, his face somber. He declined to make any statements before the court, as did his attorney and prosecutors. But that didn't prevent 4th District Judge David Mortensen from expressing his thoughts.

"I do believe you are a pedophile. I do believe you are a danger to society," Mortensen said.

The judge said he hoped the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole would keep Keith Brown in prison for at least 10 years and require the man to undergo sex offender treatment. He noted there could have been "many more charges" filed because the abuse had been ongoing.

"I think it's obvious that a home should be a refuge and a safe place and a parent should be a protector," Mortensen said.

The judge ordered that the three prison terms be served concurrently.

Brown wasn't handcuffed after the sentence was imposed, but was escorted back into the holding area to be committed to prison. Though he did not speak in court — which is customary at sentencing hearings — he did write what his attorney called "a statement of apology addressed to his family and the community" to the judge.

Each of Brown's daughters also wrote victim impact statements, which were submitted to the judge. In an unconventional move, all of the letters and statements — which are typically public because they are used to help a judge determine a sentence — were filed as part of Brown's pre-sentence report. Such reports are considered private and are generally unavailable to the public.

Mortensen declined a Deseret News request to make those normally public statements available because of the way they were filed.

Defense attorney Steve Shapiro said the fact that Brown appeared alone at the hearing was indicative of the understanding he and his family had about the sentence he would likely receive.

"I don't think it should be taken as his family was not supportive," Shapiro said. "I think they thought private goodbyes are much better than public ones."

He said his client takes responsibility for what he's done and hopes to see his family "reunified" someday. He also declined to release the contents of his client's letter.

"Every step he's taken in the process has been geared toward taking responsibility and today was the next, very difficult step in a long process of accepting responsibility and looking forward to a time when, hopefully, the family can be reunified," Shapiro said.

Prosecutor David Sturgill said he was satisfied with the resolution because it was what the victims wanted.

"This is a resolution we discussed, and I hope they're happy it finally came," he said. "They are strong women, they are courageous women. But for good or bad, (Keith Brown) has changed the course of their lives."

Kimball Thomson, a spokesman for the group, said Thursday that the siblings would not be making any statements in regards to the sentencing.

In February, Thomson said the daughters initiated the case against their father "out of concern for the welfare and protection of other young women and girls." Though the charges stemmed from incidents that took place in the 1990s, the sisters only recently came forward about the abuse, prompted by the news that their father was looking to manage musical acts.

Brown pleaded guilty to all three of the charges in February, just weeks after they were filed. The charges and plea deal were part of an agreement reached between prosecutors, Brown's attorney and Brown's three daughters — Desirae, 32; Deondra, 30; and Melody, 26.

Brown had previously managed the 5 Browns, but now has no connection as the children severed their professional relationship with their father in October of 2008. The siblings have been on tour and did not cancel any shows in spite of the criminal proceedings involving their father. They performed in Miami on Tuesday and had another concert date scheduled for Friday in Orlando, Fla.

The sodomy and abuse incidents occurred when all of the girls were 13 or younger. Prosecutors have said they were not isolated incidents and the abuse was ongoing between 1990 and 1998.

The charges against Keith Brown came to light following a car accident involving the man and his wife, Lisa, just four days after the charges were filed. The couple was returning home from a dinner at Snowbird when their vehicle plummeted about 500 feet off the main road and into Little Cottonwood Creek. It took rescuers more than two hours to locate the Browns and carry them to waiting medical helicopters. Both were seriously injured, though Keith Brown was able to appear in court a few days later.

Keith Brown had a second car accident March 3, after police say the convertible BMW 330ci he was driving drifted into another lane of travel in Highland, causing a second vehicle vehicle to hit him. No one was seriously injured in that accident.

The 5 Browns are a classical piano-playing group consisting of five siblings — the three girls and their two brothers, Gregory and Ryan. They were the first group of five siblings to attend The Juilliard School in New York City.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam