AMERICAN FORK -- A former Boy Scout leader from Orem was sentenced Monday to one year in jail for multiple counts of sexual abuse.
Gary Wade Brown, 42, pleaded guilty in June to four counts of sexual abuse of a child and sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree felonies, and one count of lewdness involving a child, a class A misdemeanor. Seven additional charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. Brown faced one to 15 years in prison for his crimes, but Judge Christine Johnson said Brown may benefit from treatment as a free man during his 36 months on probation.
"I think, in this case, that it is appropriate to consider probation for Mr. Brown," she said.
Brown has already spent 8 months in jail, which will count toward his sentence.
The sexual abuse took place between 2005 and 2006, in which Brown touched a 12-year-old boy's genitals and made the boy touch him. Brown also took illicit photos of the boy at least once and then deleted them after looking at the photos with the boy. Several of the incidents took place during outings with the Boy Scouts.
Johnson said a large factor in her decision was the psychosexual evaluation conducted by Dr. Peter Byrne, who classified Brown as a low to moderate risk for re-offending.
"Were it not for that finding, I would not consider probation at all," she said.
Though Johnson agreed with Byrne's finding that Brown can be successful in treatment, she said he will receive no second chances if he violates probation. The aggravating and mitigating factors in the case were very close, and Johnson said the aggravating factors needed to be much heavier to order prison. A violation of probation would show Brown needed to be in prison and the sentence was wrong, she said.
"I sincerely hope that I don't conclude that I was wrong," she said.
Prosecutor Julia Thomas made no sentencing recommendations in the case as part of the plea deal. In order to prevent the need for the boy to testify, Brown pleaded guilty and Thomas agreed not to actively seek a prison term. Thomas said the family of the victim also did not ask for prison, and she was happy the judge looked into all the factors in making her decision.
"The sentence took into consideration all of the factors that we wanted the judge to consider," she said.
The victim's father addressed the court before sentencing, saying he hopes Brown takes the opportunity to get help. He spoke of the pre-sentence report, in which the writer said Brown may have placed some of the blame on the victim, as he referred to the boy as having a "similar mindset." The boy's father, however, said there was no way his son could have brought the abuse upon himself.
"He was just 12 years old," the victim's father said. "He was just a little guy when this started."
The boy sought love and affection from male role models because his biological father was absent in his life, the man said. He looked for it with his stepfather and other Scout leaders, and Brown exploited him, he said.
"That was a need he was looking for -- love and affection, not sexual abuse," he said.
Though Brown, who was a friend and leader, manipulated the victim, the boy's father said he hopes Brown will now get treatment and change. This is not an opportunity to throw away the key for Brown, but to make sure he is safe around children, he said.
"He's in our prayers," the father said. "We hope for him to get help."
Kevan Allbee, a friend of Brown's wife, Sheri Brown, read a statement from her to the judge. The couple is going through a divorce after 19 years of marriage, and Sheri Brown asked the judge to protect her and her children from Brown.
The woman wrote that Brown had an affair early in their marriage with another man, and he has never shown an interest in changing or remorse.
"Over the years, Wade's behaviors have gone from being morally wrong to obviously illegal," she wrote.
Sheri Brown wrote that her husband betrayed the entire family with his actions and asked that he be incarcerated. One day, his prison doors will open, she said, but his victim's prison doors may not.
Despite the report's indication that Brown may have blamed the victim, he told the judge he takes full responsibility for his actions, and no one else is to blame. Brown apologized to the Boy Scouts of America and to the victim's family for his crimes.
"I can't even fathom the amount of hurt and anger and distrust and pain that I've caused them," he said.
Brown's attorney, Shelden Carter, said he was happy Brown did not receive prison time. Though Brown's crimes were atrocious, he said, he also is a good man.
"There's a lot of nice things to say about Wade," he said.