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Child rape charges dropped
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Child rape charges have been dropped against a mentally ill man who allegedly molested a 5-year-old boy at Fall Creek Falls earlier this year.
“He’s a 23-year-old man with an 8-year-old’s mind,” said District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis. “My hands are tied. There should be something in the law for this, but there’s not.”
The alleged rapist, Brandon Brownwell, could have faced up to 25 years in prison for molesting the 5-year-old boy at Fall Creek Falls State Park in neighboring Van Buren County. The incident happened in March while Brownwell was playing with children there. He was indicted on the charge of child rape once the incident was reported.
“It was obvious he has his limitations,” Zavogian-nis said regarding the indictment.
Those limitations led to his defense requesting a mental evaluation to determine his competency. The defense then tendered a 28-page report detailing Brownwell’s mental disabilities. In turn, the prosecution made Brownwell submit to an examination by its own mental experts. The results were the same.
“They said he had an IQ in the 40s,” Zavogiannis said. “They also said that not only was he not competent to assist in his defense, but also that he could never be made competent to stand trial.”
The findings, Zavogian-nis said, left her with no alternative but to dismiss the case. Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley agreed, accepting the prosecution’s motion to dismiss.
“I could never try this case based on their findings,” Zavogiannis admitted. “I’ve never been part of a case like this before where the person had no hope of being made competent.”
The district attorney noted the law provides no remedy for such a case, meaning authorities couldn’t even require Brownwell be kept in a mental institution. He is presently under the jurisdiction of a conservator.