Visiting Superior Court Judge John Feeney today sentenced a woman who pleaded guilty to two counts related to sexual abuse of a minor to 120 days in county jail and five years formal probation.
The 2014 Miss Hoopa Valley, Kayla Muriel Brown, 24, will also have to register a sex offender after she was sentenced this morning. The crimes were committed on Brown’s birthday, Dec. 7, 2014, as well as other crimes that were committed between June 2014 and January 2015.
Brown pleaded guilty to sexual penetration of a minor under 16 years old and contact with a minor for sexual purposes at today’s sentencing hearing. The jail term was imposed after Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Schaffer made the request that Brown serve some time in custody because of the nature of the crimes.
“The defendant should serve a term in county jail for her actions,” Schaffer argued, asking Feeney for a 180-day sentence that Feeney later reduced along with the amount of community service Brown must serve.
Schaffer pointed out the power dynamic that existed between Brown and Jane Doe and the abuse of authority had a severe impact on the victim in the close-knit community of Hoopa Valley.
“I do want to point out to the court Jane Doe’s mother reached out to the defendant six months before the so-called relationship began, saying, ‘I don’t like the way you’re communicating with my daughter, please stop,’ ” Schaffer said.
Schaffer then asked for 180 days pointing out the harm Brown caused and the number of people she hurt and also highlighted the fact that Jane Doe was a freshman in high school when the abuse began in December 2014. Schaffer said the student had to endure four years in school with the case hanging over her head.
Schaffer read a letter written by Jane Doe’s mother detailing the problems her daughter faced as the case became public.
“Unlike the perpetrator, my daughter was not able to enjoy four years of high school, they (Brown’s supporters) insisted in treating my daughter as a criminal,” Schaffer read from the mother’s statement, adding, “The defendant’s conduct impaired my child’s ability to get an education.”
The letter continued, detailing verbal abuse Jane Doe suffered while playing sports, frequent days absent from school due to shame and fear and the struggle she had to make it through four years.
“She’s a survivor,” Schaffer read. “She made it and graduated high school and unlike Ms. Brown, my daughter has a heart. I ask the court to hold Ms. Brown accountable for the child molester she is. She could have been held accountable long ago.”
Brown appeared in court out of custody and she stood next to Deputy Public Defender Ben McLaughlin during the entire proceeding. Other than short answers in response to Feeney, Brown made no statement but McLaughlin did respond to Schaffer.
McLaughlin said a review of the text messages between Brown and Jane Doe indicated a consensual relationship and according to McLaughlin, an evaluation of Brown led to the conclusion she is not predatory.
“She wants to move on with her life,” McLaughlin said, adding, “I know there have been contentious relationships between the families and she’s seeking counseling.”
Feeney then wrapped up the hearing with the sentence and his own thoughts.
“The court appreciates this has been extremely painful for Jane Doe and her family and it’s been difficult for Ms. Brown and her family,” Feeney said as he read out the sentence. “I am going to impose a jail sentence of 120 days and reduce the community service to 150 hours.”
Brown will report to the county jail March 16 to serve her sentence.