In St. Charles County Circuit Court on Thursday, the mother of two young Lake Saint Louis girls said "her worst dream had come true." It wasn't a predator "on the outside" who had molested her children, but someone she had trusted and invited into her home: her husband.
In a statement at the sentencing of the mother of the two victims spoke about life with her husband after their marriage in June 2007 and subsequent move to Lake Saint Louis from Florida.
"I got breakfast in bed every morning, surprise, no special reason," she said. "I got love notes on my pillow."
Brown was very involved with his new family, teaching the children to swim and taking them to movies and amusement parks.
"We went to church as a family," the victims' mother said.
Life in hindsight
She said she was aware that Brown "had issues" with pornography and phone sex, but the couple had background checks done prior to their marriage. She believed he was working through those issues.
Their idyllic life ended at 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 8, 2010, when she was called to her children's school and asked not to bring her husband.
"What happened next I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy," the mother recalled in court Thursday.
"The look on my nine-year-old's face when I walked in.... I thought a teacher, a bus driver, a neighbor, a schoolmate, someone hurt my babies. When she said it was Poppy, it was like someone knocked the wind out of me."
At that point in her statement to the court, the girls' mother stopped and took a few moments to compose herself.
"I invited him into the children's lives. I opened that door. I trusted Corey totally with my children. It gives a new meaning to hurt and betrayal."
History repeating itself
The victim's mother told the court she had been molested at the age of eight, also by a family member. Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Shaffar would mention later that Brown relayed that information to the girls, as if to justify his actions.
Shaffar read details from the victims' interviews at the . Brown would watch the children while their mother worked a night shift, taking the oldest girl into the bedroom and using a baby monitor to make sure the younger children were still asleep. The incidents of molestation, rape and sodomy began when the oldest child was five years old. When her younger sister was eight, Brown began including her also.
"While I was working the nightshift, Corey was molesting my children in my bed," the mother said. "Sometimes while I was on the phone with him checking up on the kids."
A habit of abuse
The children were also physically abused. The victims' interviews show Brown would hit the girls and pick them up by their heads or shoulders. He would watch child pornograpy with them, which one of the girls described as "dads doing things to their kids."
The girls were told not to talk about it or there would be big trouble.
"Corey told them this was their little secret," their mother said. "I brought Corey into our lives to complete our family circle. If only I’d paid more attention."
She said that she had missed her older daughter's "silent cries" for help, like stealing and lying.
"If only I’d seen the handprints in baby oil on the pillow and bedroom door, the extra towels in the bathroom. I missed all the signs."
The girls' mother called Brown "a master manipulator," and said her older daughter is still scared he will return.
"The girls have good and bad days. I beat myself up for failing my girls. There’s a lot of mending and healing for the five of us. (The younger children) still want to know what happened. I can’t tell them."
The attorneys speak
Shafford said the defendant’s version of the crime was that he "had a situation" in his home that he allowed to get out of hand. It started, he said, when his daughter barged in his bathroom as he was getting out of the shower and from tickling games they would play.
Brown . Before that, the state made a recommendation for a 25-year sentence, which Brown rejected, asking instead for a sentencing assessment report. Brown's attorney Dennis Chassaniol said his client earned a score of six on that report. That is considered a good score, a low risk for re-offending.
Chassaniol said Brown "at no point through this entire process denied his actions," that he turned himself in and that he had used his time in jail to seek counseling. Brown has denied any aggressive tendencies and turned to prayer to deal with anger.
Brown was distraught over being sexually inappropriate with the girls and tried to kill himself, Chassaniol said.
"His plan was to cut his vein but he was unsuccessful."
Brown was "until this horrific and terrible turn in his life, a man of honor" the lawyer added.
Shaffar said the assessment reports were worthless. Commenting on Brown's counseling and prayer, she described him as "one of those people, who, once they're in prison—they've found God."
She called Brown's attempted suicide "a feeble attempt to get some kind of pity."
Referring to Brown's military background (experience in the military police, with more than 80 hours of SWAT training), Shaffar said, "Do you think if he really tried to kill himself, he wouldn’t have been able to do it?"
Brown gained his wife’s trust, Shaffar said, but he was living a double life.
"This is the ultimate case of manipulation and distortion," she said, "This clearly is a case of someone who needs to be put away for a very very long time."
Shaffar said the state was asking for nine consecutive life sentences.
"The damage this man has done is a life sentence for that entire family,” she said.
Brown had a chance to speak in court Thursday, but his voice, barely above a whisper, was inaudible most of the time.
"It is totally no one's fault but my own," he said. "I will not be that person ever again."
Before Judge Nancy Schneider read the sentence, she said:
"I do believe this is the most shocking and egregious case I've ever had to hear about. But we can’t forget it’s the children who actually experienced these things, day after day and year after year."
The defendent called his actions a "failure and a mistake," Schneider said, "But it was basically the destruction of not only his own life, but more importantly the lives of his wife and children."
"The defendant has referred to this as something initiated by the children and blamed it on the availability of pornography," she said. "But this was caused by evil in the defendent. The lives of these children cannot be fixed."
Schneider then sentenced Brown on each of the 14 separate felony counts, The end result is two consecutive life sentences plus 30 years with credit for time served. She also awarded victims' compensation to the family.
"Never in their lives will they ever have to deal directly with you again, but they will be dealing with the effects of what you've done to them all their lives," she told Brown.