Former Mt. Pleasant police officer sentenced to prison for sexual assaults

·3 min read

May 10—A Westmoreland County prosecutor argued in court Monday that a former part-time Mt. Pleasant Borough police officer who used an escalating level of violence in sexual attacks against three women should spend up to 50 years in prison.

"Law enforcement officials carry badges. If you look at it, it's a miniature shield to say to the public 'I'm here to stand between you and evil-doers in society.' Sometimes, as in the case here, that badge will hide an evil-doer on the other side," said Assistant District Attorney Leo Ciaramitaro during the sentencing hearing for John Brown.

The 48-year-old Mt. Lebanon resident was convicted by a Westmoreland County jury in October for sexual assaults at an Allegheny County bar in 2014, a Donegal home in 2015 and at North Park in Allegheny County during a police-sponsored rib festival also in 2014. Brown was not on duty as a police officer at those times, prosecutors said.

Ciaramitaro asked that Brown be sentenced to serve an aggravated sentence of 25 to 50 years in prison.

"The badge can no longer stand in the way of justice," Ciaramitaro said.

Common Pleas Court Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio instead ordered Brown to serve 5 to 10 years in prison and an additional five years on probation as part of a sentence that falls under the standard range of state guidelines.

The judge said Brown's actions required a prison sentence for what she called crimes that were violent and humiliating to his victims.

"At the very least, you disregarded their resistance and oftentimes their tears," Bilik-DeFazio said.

Brown was given credit for about the 2 1/2 years he served in jail after his arrest and following his conviction last fall. He will be eligible for parole in late 2023.

Following a four-day trial, jurors convicted Brown of nine offenses including four counts of indecent assault, two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and single counts of aggravated indecent assault and simple assault. Brown was found not guilty of attempted rape and other charges in connection with allegations he improperly touched a woman in an Erie bar in 2014.

In one case, a 25-year-old Irwin woman testified Brown attempted to rape her and force her to perform other sex acts before he restrained and choked her on a bed at a Donegal Township home in December 2015.

A 39-year-old Mt. Lebanon woman told jurors she read about Brown's arrest following the Donegal incident and went to police about a similar incident she said occurred a year earlier. The woman testified at trial she met Brown at a wing and rib festival at North Park in September 2014, when she agreed to go with him to his parked vehicle. She testified Brown demanded she call him her master and forced her to perform oral sex.

A third woman testified that she was sexually assaulted by Brown outside an Emsworth bar in 2014.

Jurors heard a recorded statement Brown gave to police in which he denied the allegations. Brown did not testify at trial. On Monday, he told the judge he had remorse for his actions.

"I take full responsibility for my actions," Brown said. "I am very truly sorry and clearly remorseful for what happened."

Defense attorney Valerie Veltri called Brown a good man who deserved a mitigated sentence.

She described Brown as being dedicated to protecting others through his work as a policeman as well as his career in the Navy, work as a U.S. air marshal and owner of a security firm. As at trial, Veltri said Brown's behavior that led to his arrest was not a crime and his job as police officer played no role in the case.

"Maybe we don't like the way he handled his dating," Veltri said. "I know he's been branded as a sex offender, but in my opinion he doesn't deserve that, but the jury has spoken."

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, rcholodofsky@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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