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Defendant Saves the Day With an Unusual Display

By Daily Journal Staff Writer
Martin Berg

In a highly unusual case, a Superior Court judge in Long Beach has dismissed child molestation charges against a man who literally saved his rear end by displaying it for the jury, his defense attorney said.

Ryan Brown faced charges he molested a friend’s daughter for several years when she was between the ages of eight and 12, ending in 1992.

The first trial ended in a 7 to 5 deadlock for guilty and acquittal on another count concerning allegations of molestation of the girl and her friend at the same time.

The alleged victim’s father has already been convicted and sentenced to state prison for molesting his daughter.

The defense contended the alleged victim accused Brown only after becoming nervous at having accused her father.

During the retrial, the alleged victim’s description of Brown - specifically his rear end - became a hotly contested issue.

That was one of the few things on which the defense attorney, Howard Price, of the Beverly Hills law firm Brodey and Price, and the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Kevin Greber, agreed during the bitterly fought seven-day trial. They agreed on one thing - neither had ever heard of a case in which the defendant displayed his rear end for jurors.

At trial, the alleged victim testified, in particular, that Brown’s buttocks were covered with red hair.

During a break, Price said he took his client to the men’s room for an inspection. He found that his client’s buttocks were not covered with hair at all. And, more importantly, he said, the defendant had a birthmark that had never been mentioned in previous descriptions.

Price asked Superior Court Judge Margaret Hay for a “show-up,” in which a neutral, third party could view the defendant’s buttocks outside court.

Hay granted the request over Greber’s objection, and arranged for a bailiff from another court to act as the observer. Greber, Price and the bailiff went to the jury room after court, where Brown displayed his buttocks.

The next day, for the first time, Price said, the alleged victim testified that Brown had a birthmark.

But Price said he was flabbergasted when the bailiff testified that in fact, Brown did have a lot of hair on his buttocks. “I just sank to the floor with shock,” Price recalled. “It was in contradiction to reality.

Price then sought to have jurors view his client’s behind, so they could make up their own minds. Again Greber objected, saying such a viewing would be inflammatory.

The decision, obviously, was up to Hay, a judge with an English accent, described by Price as “the model of English propriety and decorum. She speaks like the queen. You feel like a barrister.” Hay granted the request, and the jurors viewed Brown’s behind.

Price said the viewing was handled with dignity. “The jurors were imbued with great seriousness by the judge.”

The jurors deadlocked 6 to 6 earlier this week. Hays then dismissed the charges.

Greber said he was disappointed in the outcome, saying crucial evidence rulings went against the prosecution, including, he said, evidence of prior complaints from the alleged victim against Brown. Greber downplayed the significance of the jury’s view of Brown’s buttocks.

“It’s subjective. I guess it’s in the eyes of the beholder. Though it was hotly contested at the time, the jurors said it didn’t really figure in their deliberations.”

Price disagreed with Greber, and said the jury view was crucial. “By showing his rear end, Mr. Brown literally and figuratively saved his own butt.”

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