Man given 35 years for attack on au pair; Stableman convicted of attempted rape of teen from Croatia


A stableman was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison for the attempted rape of his employer's Croatian au pair -- a teen-ager who had been in the United States just a few days.

Robert Brown, 42, who is nearly illiterate, said nothing in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court as Judge Eugene M. Lerner gave him a sentence that topped the state guidelines of 12 to 20 years.

"Here is someone who came looking for a better life in this country and became a victim of crime," Lerner said.

The victim was not in the courtroom, and, according to prosecutors, is so ashamed of the assault that she has not told her parents what happened at the Gambrills horse farm Nov. 22, 1998.

In tearful testimony at the trial in December, she indicated that she was less afraid of dying during the assault than worried that her parents would find out the circumstances.

Lerner said he viewed the assault as a particularly vicious one, in which Brown beat the 18-year-old and bound her wrists to get her to stop struggling, and "then, when it's all over, he says he is sorry."

The sentence -- life in prison, but with all but the 35 years suspended, plus five years of probation -- pleased prosecutors.

Brown's public defender, Heather Hostetter, pleaded unsuccessfully for Lerner to ask prison officials to place him in a rehabilitation program for sex offenders and deal with his mental health problems. He could be eligible for parole in 17 1/2 years.

The defendant, a New Orleans native, wiped away tears as his lawyer described him as an uneducated horse trainer who was 12 when his mother was killed during a sexual assault by an acquaintance.

Hostetter asked Lerner to recommend Brown for a sex offender treatment program at Patuxent Institution in Jessup, and suggested 15 years as "the ideal sentence." Fewer years would not give him enough time to complete the program, but much more than 15 would result in a backward step into a general prison population after finishing the program, she said.

She told the judge that Brown had no criminal record, and was being heavily medicated at the county detention center for mental problems. After the court session, she explained that he had suicidal and paranoid tendencies.

Even given the judge's sentence, Brown is going to be released at some point, Hostetter said after the hearing. "He has issues that need addressing, and it's a shame they won't get addressed in the general prison population."

But Assistant State's Attorney M. Virginia Miles, who sought a sentence in excess of state guidelines, said after the sentencing: "He needs to be in jail until he is too old to attack young women."

Miles said the victim had come to the United States to work as a nanny for a Gambrills family. Her employer gave her a choice of living with the family in the main house or sharing a cottage with Brown, a former Lineboro resident who had promised his employer he would respect the young woman's privacy.

However, he attacked her at the cottage after she turned down his advances -- apologizing to her immediately afterward, according to the victim's testimony.

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