Former astrologer gets probation
A former Glenwood Springs man was sentenced Thursday to 18 months of probation for harassing two girls, concluding a case that referenced everything from a movie cannibal to lie detectors.Tomas Gregory Brown, 54, is also forbidden from having intentional contact with anyone younger than 18 and must complete 150 hours of community service.Brown, who was originally charged with two felony counts of sexual assault on a child, pleaded guilty in April to two misdemeanor harassment charges as part of a plea agreement.Judge Daniel Petre said the case involved stark differences between the victims’ allegations and Brown’s defense.”Clearly both sides have misgivings” about the plea deal, he said. But a trial “would have been grueling for the defense and the victims,” Petre said. The plea agreement came after the girls’ family decided to spare them from testifying at trial.Under the original charges, Brown, a former astrologer for The Aspen Times, could have received 18 years in prison if convicted.
He was arrested in May 2005 after the two girls, daughters of a family friend, told authorities he had kissed one of them and touched both inappropriately during massages. The arrest warrant alleged he also called the victims, who were 11 and 13 at the time, “yummy” and told one girl that she would be his slave.But the plea agreement states that there was no unlawful sexual behavior related to the harassment charges, and Brown will not have to register as a sex offender.The allegations surfaced when one of the girls told a social services worker that she had dreamed someone assaulted her sister, defense attorney John Van Ness said at Thursday’s hearing in Garfield County District Court. The therapist then asked if anything in real life had perhaps influenced the dream, Van Ness said.He hypothesized that a movie the girls watched the night before the first accusation likely influenced their thoughts. Van Ness said he checked the TV schedule for that night and found that “Silence of the Lambs” had played. He explained the plot and said one of the lead characters, Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter, spoke with a Welsh accent. His client has a similar British accent, he said.Both Brown and the star, Anthony Hopkins, were 53 at the time, and the resemblance between the two was “uncanny,” Van Ness said.But he said Brown, who now lives in Boulder, is not a monster and was instead a “good friend” to the victims and their mother. Brown has devoted his life to helping people, Van Ness said; his reputation in the Roaring Fork Valley, however, “is shot.””You mention his name and people say ‘child molester,'” he said.
Deputy district attorney Scott Turner painted a sharply different picture, calling Brown’s actions “classically sexually deviant behavior.” He asked Petre to sentence Brown to jail because the defendant “needs to learn the difference between being a victim and an offender.”He recommended a jail sentence of 10 days on both counts, an unusual request in misdemeanor cases. The plea agreement means Brown is “getting off very lucky,” Turner said.”It’s a very troubling case,” he said.Brown sat impassively next to Van Ness. He spoke only to tell the judge that his statement was contained in a letter to Petre. Two representatives of the girls attended the hearing but also chose not to speak.Petre said it is clear he had to take into account that no unlawful sexual behavior had taken place, as the plea deal stipulated, and that the defendant previously had a clean criminal record. But he also said he considered Brown’s actions “fairly severe harassment.”The judge said there was a need to both protect society and rehabilitate the defendant. The 18 months of probation will be supervised, which is also unusual for a misdemeanor sentencing. Brown will also have to undergo a mental health evaluation and follow its recommendations, and pay court costs and fees. The increase in community service hours was significant, the judge said.”He is a helping person, and he will put his talents to work,” Petre said.
Former local publisher and editor Curtis Robinson has offered Brown a job at his lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., Van Ness added. He asked if the probation sentence could possibly be transferred there, a request Petre said was unlikely to be met.After court, Brown continued to deny any wrongdoing adamantly.”It seems to me the reduction of heinous charges to two minor misdemeanors, with the stipulation by the DA and judge that there’s no sexual involvement, plus the fact that I fully passed a polygraph, seems to me to say it all,” he said.When Brown was asked if he was relieved the case is over, Van Ness stepped in.”It’s not over,” he said. “You get accused, it never ends.”You never stop paying.”Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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