“Mildred Brown told a Cumberland County jury that she had no idea her husband molested children for several years in her home.
While some of the signs are obvious after the fact, Brown testified Tuesday that she was naïve to this while it was going on.
Brown, 72, of Newville, is on trial in Cumberland County Court, facing four counts of endangering the welfare of children.
Her husband, Robert Brown, also 72, was convicted last year on 42 counts related to the sexual abuse of four children, and was sentenced in April to 40 to 120 years in state prison.
Several months after his trial, state police filed charges against Mildred Brown, believing she was aware of the repeated molestations and did nothing to stop or report them.
Brown, however, denied any knowledge of this happening on the second day of her trial, and said it never occurred while she was in the house, contrary to the testimony of the victims.
When her attorney, Shawn Dorward, asked how there can be so many accusations, and she saw none of it, she said her husband “was such a chameleon, if you walked in the room, he could change instantly.”
One of the victims had testified Monday that Mildred Brown walked in the room while he was performing oral sex on her husband, which Brown said Tuesday never happened.
“He never committed any of that stuff with me in the house,” she said.
Robert Brown was arrested after the mother of the two youngest victims caught him in the act, and previous testimony indicated Mildred Brown said she was glad the mother caught them so the crime would be reported.
When her attorney asked her what her statement meant, Brown said she feared her husband could lie his way out of the situation, if she filed the report.
On cross-examination, however, Senior Assistant District Attorney Emily Provencher pointed out that Mildred Brown’s husband told her at one point prior to his arrest he suspected someone else of abusing the two younger children.
Provencher asked why she didn’t report the abuse then, when she first heard about it, and her husband wasn’t a suspect, and Brown said, “I wasn’t the one who saw it. Bob did. He was the one who should have reported it. Not me.”
There was another incident in which Mildred Brown found a pornographic website in the home’s computer website history, according to testimony. Brown said she was furious when she found it and approached her husband, who told her one of the victims opened the website to show it to him.
Provencher asked asked why the website didn’t send up a red flag, and Brown said she didn’t view this as child molestation. Brown said, though, the victim visiting their home ended then, “when there was any sexual indication between him and the children.”
In addition to Brown’s testimony, a recorded interview between Brown and the state troopers was played for the jury.
In the interview, Mildred Brown told the troopers that she wouldn’t even know where to report child abuse if she suspected it.
But state Trooper Benjamin Wilson said Brown drove a school bus for a busing contractor with the Carlisle Area School District, and testified that part of that training involved the reporting of abuse.
When the troopers asked her in the interview about finding the pornographic website her husband viewed with a victim, she said, “I thought it was wrong, but didn’t think it was sexual abuse.”
Police pointed out that this was just one of many incidents that should have alerted her.
“How many more things have to come up?” Wilson asked her in the recording.
“What was I supposed to do?” Mildred Brown asked.
“Pick up the phone,” he said.
“And I’d die,” she responded, indicating her husband was a violent man whom she feared.
Mildred Brown also blamed the children, and their parents, for the allegations against her, according to the recording.
“I’m as much a victim in this as those kids,” she told the troopers.
Me, myself, and “I.”
“I” was protecting myself. “I” was a victim too.”
The human ego will always defend itself, to the detriment of the soul.