Brown goes to trial

REED CITY — A school teacher will go to trial in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old male student.

Janet Brown is charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. She taught at Ashmun School at Eagle Village in Hersey, an adjudicated youth facility for troubled teens, until November 2012 when she was placed on unpaid administrative leave when her involvement with the student was discovered. Ashmun School, a separate entity from Eagle Village, is run by the Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District.

Her case was dismissed without prejudice in June because Michigan State Police could not locate the victim. The victim was arrested in Bay City in August for stealing medical marijuana from a homeowners grow room, contrary to previous statements made in court that he “could not be located.”

Brown, 34, was in Osceola County’s 77th District Court on Thursday for her preliminary hearing.

The now 17-year-old victim testified that he had sex with Brown — his math and English teacher — three times in her classroom closet. He said she gave him a cellphone for purposes of staying in touch after he was to leave the facility. He testified that the phone was used to set up their meetings.

The victim went on to tell the court of his sexual encounters with Brown. He said in the beginning, he wrote her notes to ask her to kiss him. He said she turned him down because she didn’t want to get into trouble. He said he kept asking until finally, they kissed.

The Herald Review is not releasing the name of the victim.

“We kissed,” he said in the courtroom. “We would touch each other.”

Osceola County’s Assistant Prosecutor Andy LePres asked the victim to describe in detail about what happened. The victim described how they avoided cameras in her classroom and how the two of them got into the closet by acting like they were walking out of the room. He then told the court about the three times they had sexual contact.

After hearing the testimony from the victim, Judge Susan Grant said there was enough evidence to bind this case over to circuit court, but denied the request from LePres to add another count of criminal sexual conduct to the case.

“I believe the elements have been established for binding the defendant over to circuit court for trial,” Grant said during the proceedings. “I do not believe the added count merits another charge to the case.”

Defense attorney James Talaske painted the victim as a drug addict and liar during testimony. He mentioned his use of prescription pain killers and his conflicting testimony from the recorded interview with MSP troopers.

At one point in the testimony, Talaske brought up the fact the victim was arrested in August in Bay City. He attempted to ask the victim questions about that case and if he was lying then.

LePres objected to the line of questioning and Grant explained to the victim about his right not to answer the question under the Fifth Amendment. The victim pleaded guilty in Bay City and has yet to be sentenced.

Talaske then changed his line of questioning back to the incident at the school and how he was boasting to another male student about having sex with the teacher. The victim continued to deny those allegations, stating he couldn’t recall the exact events because it was so long ago. Talaske confronted the victim about being truthful.

“Liars, lie, don’t they,” Talaske said to the victim.

The victim said he wasn’t lying.

Talaske asked the victim if he was satisfied that he was destroying a teacher’s career. The victim responded, by saying he didn’t want to see Brown lose her job or get in trouble. He said he never would have come forward if the phone hadn’t been confiscated. It wasn’t his fault, he said.

The date and time of Brown’s next appearance in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court has not yet been determined.