Janet Brown sentenced to three to 15 years in prison

REED CITY— Former Ashmun School teacher Janet Brown was sentenced on Friday to three to 15 years in prison for third-degree criminal sexual conduct and eight months for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Osceola County Circuit Court Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy handed down the sentence in front a courtroom packed with supporters for Brown.

In the early hours of March 22, a jury found Brown guilty of one count CSC3 and one count CSC4, while finding her not guilty of two other CSC3 charges.

Although she faced a minimum of three years in prison, Brown and her attorney, James Talaske, asked the court for leniency and to sentence her to no more than two years in prison.

Hill-Kennedy said he received dozens of letters of support for Brown and read each carefully. Despite this, and after reviewing sentencing guidelines and hearing from the defense, he said there was not enough reason to go above or below the minimum and maximum sentencing guideline.

He did recognize she was unique amongst the defendants usually seen in court, noting she had done a lot of good in her life. While he took that into consideration, he said she had to face the consequences for her serious mistake.

“I feel I can take into account the excellent teaching that you had done up to making this serious mistake, the good coaching you had done, your participation in church with family,” Hill-Kennedy said. “All these things show you were an important and positive person in your community. You made a mistake and that doesn’t mean I have to hammer you as hard as I could.”

Brown said she understood that many people come before the court and ask for leniency, yet still intend to continue their bad behavior. She expressed that she is not that person and did not want to be categorized in the same group.

“I will go back to school, I will get another degree and I will continue to take care of my family despite all the obstacles I will face,” she said. “I will get beyond this.”

Brown stated she has lost her husband, children, her job, teaching certificate, both her bachelor and master’s degrees.

“I’ve already lost quite a bit,” she said.

Brown will be credited for 36 days served in jail and her sentences will run concurrently. Brown will be required to register as a tier three category sex offender for the rest of her life.

Hill-Kennedy noted Brown will not be required to have monitoring.

She must pay a crime victims assessment fee of $130 and state costs of $136.

Talaske noted that a verdict was reached around 12:30 a.m. on March 22 after jurors had been in court since 8:30 a.m. on March 21. Around 11 p.m., Talaske said he had asked the court to release the jury because he worried the late hour and length of trial would force a verdict.

When the verdict was returned, Talaske said it was a “very obvious compromise verdict,” finding Brown guilty of two charges and not guilty of the remaining charges.

He also said he received a call a week later from a juror, who stated he was very upset and hadn’t been able to sleep because he had been holding out for not guilty and was pressured by the other jurors.

Talaske advised him to contact Hill-Kennedy, but apparently he did not do so.

Talaske said Brown intends to appeal her convictions.