Former Brownfield publisher, economic development director sentenced in child porn case

The George H. Mahon Federal Building in downtown Lubbock.
The George H. Mahon Federal Building in downtown Lubbock.

A federal judge in Lubbock told a Brownfield man on Thursday that his history of service and generosity to his community did little to overcome the egregious actions he engaged in behind closed doors to satisfy his sexual desire for children.

U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix handed a 12-year prison sentence to Brian Lynn Brisendine, the former Brownfield Industrial Development Corporation director and publisher of the Brownfield News, during a sentencing hearing.

Brisendine, 43, pleaded guilty in March to a count of receipt and distribution of child pornography, an offense that carries a punishment of five to 20 years in prison.

However, probation officials provided the court with a sentencing guideline range of 135 to 168 months in prison.

Brian Brisendine
Brian Brisendine

Brisendine admitted to collecting and distributing thousands of images of child sexual abuse that included prepubescent children.

Brisendine's charge stems from a Texas Department of Public Safety investigation that began in October 2021 after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children sent a tip that files containing materials of child sexual abuse were held in an online storage account. The account was linked to an I.P. Address that was traced to Brisendine's home in Brownfield.

The storage account was also associated with an email address Brisendine used in a drivers license application, according to a criminal complaint that was unsealed after his initial appearance on Monday.

On Jan. 18, agents searched Brisendine's home. He also met with agents and admitted to trading images of child sexual abuse online since 2014. He admitted to viewing between 5,000 and 10,000 videos and images of child sexual abuse with children as young as four months old. He told investigators that he knowingly possessed all the images and videos in the storage account, which he also saved on his computer.

He admitted to trading at least 500 images of child sexual abuse.

He told agents he had sexual fantasies involving children and masturbated to the images of child sexual abuse he collected.

He was arrested and released on bond.

Brisendine worked as a reporter for the Brownfield News where his father was the publisher since 1977 until his death in 2017. Brisendine took over as publisher until 2019 when he was hired as director of the Brownfield Industrial Development Corporation. The corporation oversees the Brownfield Economic Development Department, according to the city's website. He resigned from the Brownfield Economic Development Department soon after his arrest.

Brisendine, who is being held at the Bailey County Jail, declined to speak during the hearing.

During Thursday's hearing, Brisendine's attorney, David Guinn, told the court his client had redemptive qualities and asked Hendrix to consider Brisendine's history of service to his community, demonstrated by the two dozen letters of support filed with the court.

Guinn recalled multiple episodes of his client's generosity, including an account from a person who earned his GED with Brisendine's help. Guinn said his client also helped a homeless woman.

Brisendine also used his position at the newspaper to help provide class photos for students who couldn't afford it and published free obituaries for needy families.

"Just keep those things in mind, sir, as you fashion the sentence," he said.

Prosecutor Callie Woolam told the court that Brisendine's case was an example of predators using their status as well-respected pillars of the community to hide the evil things they did.

There was no evidence that Brisendine acted on his impulses and abused children as an adult, but Woolam said his status in the community gave him access to potential victims.

"The future concern of that is very, very great," she said.

Woolam said Brisendine did admit to inappropriately touching a 10 year-old girl when he was 15 years old.

Woolam said investigators also found evidence that Brisendine participated in discussions in online chatrooms with fellow pedophiles in which they shared their fantasies of sexually abusing children.

She said Brisendine's actions helped fuel the sexual desires of other pedophiles.

Hendrix told Brisendine that the mitigating evidence his attorney submitted didn't outweigh the seriousness of his actions.

"I do think there's a high level of compulsion here," he said.

Hendrix told Brisendine that his history of community service couldn't make up for the "one unbelievably awful aspect that you tried to hide."

"You can't balance the scales that way," he said.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Brian Lynn Brisendine sentenced to 12 years in prison