Howard County police responded more than 20 times in the past five years to a variety of complaints at an Ellicott City address where they arrested a former University of Maryland, Baltimore County assistant professor this week on charges of working as a prostitute out of her home.
Police visits to Brandy M. Britton's two-story beige and brown home on Shirley Meadow Court stemmed from "animal complaints," allegations of domestic violence and other calls, including a few that are listed only as "suspicious."
Police would not say who made the calls. Britton, 41, had two pet pigs, and court records show that her former husband, Isamu Tubyangye, pleaded guilty to one count of assault on Aug. 31 for choking her until she passed out.
Tubyangye, who court records show has moved to Jacksonville, Fla., could not be reached for comment yesterday. He alleged in January last year that Britton had hit him with an iron, prompting the attack.
Efforts to reach Britton were unsuccessful yesterday, and the tree-lined cul-de-sac where she lives was quiet.
After Britton's arrest, neighbors described Britton's behavior as eccentric and suspicious, and said police had frequently visited the home.
"They let [the pigs] ... eat the grass out in front of the house, and my kids go over to pet them," Bonnie Sorak said. "The pigs are nice, but they're huge. They weigh over 300 pounds. I can't imagine that she could have that sort of business with those animals there."
Howard County had 11 known cases of prostitution during the first nine months of last year, and this arrest stood out, said Sherry Llewellyn, a police spokeswoman.
"No jurisdiction is immune from prostitution, but this type of case is unusual," she said. "Not only because it is happening in a home, but because it is the suspect's own personal residence."
Howard County police have charged Britton with "engaging in prostitution, maintaining a building for that purpose, allowing a building to be used for prostitution, and allowing a person into a building for the purpose of prostitution."
A Web site that police say she maintains states that she provides escort services and companionship, not prostitution.
Federal and Howard County Circuit Court records paint a picture of a woman who has long had professional, financial and personal problems, many of which Britton tried to resolve through litigation.
Britton, who has a doctorate in sociology from the University of California, San Francisco, taught women's studies courses at UMBC from 1994 to 1999.
An expert on violence against women, she won a $515,232 grant in fiscal 1998 from the National Institutes of Health on the "Impact of Violence on Women's Drug Use and HIV Risk," according to the NIH Web site.
In 1998, according to federal court documents dismissing a suit that she brought against UMBC, students and employees at the university began to accuse Britton of academic misconduct regarding her NIH study.
The following year, a university committee concluded that Britton had "deceptively reported her findings" in research abstracts, the documents state.
In March 1999, Britton brought the $10 million suit against UMBC alleging gender discrimination. She lost her job later that year.
A judge ruled in UMBC's favor in 2003. A university spokesman said Britton has appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has not issued a ruling.
While working at UMBC, Britton also sued a previous employer, the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, in Berkeley, Calif., alleging "among other things, that she was damaged in her reputation and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder," according to federal court records filed by UMBC. One of Britton's former attorneys in that case would not comment yesterday, citing attorney-client confidentiality.
Litigation also has marked Britton's personal life.
She filed for bankruptcy in April 2002, and her house has been foreclosed on four times since 2001, including one case that has been pending since August, according to Howard County Circuit Court records.
Her marriage to Tubyangye lasted less than 14 months. Her divorce was made final in July 2003.
That year, a judge dismissed that year Britton's attempts to get $30,000 in "uninsured motorist benefits" from a 1998 accident in which both drivers were insured. She was a passenger in one of the cars.
Sun reporters Laura Cadiz and Matthew Dolan contributed to this article.