- Associated Press - Thursday, February 17, 2011

PROVO, UTAH (AP) - The distraught father of The 5 Browns musical group pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually abusing his daughters when they were children in a deal that will send him to prison for at least 10 years.

With scratches and bruises on his face from a crash in which his Porsche plunged 300 feet into a canyon, Keith Brown, 55, entered his plea to three felony counts in Fourth District Court.

“He is terribly remorseful for what has happened and for what he has put his family through,” defense attorney Steven Shapiro said after the hearing. “He recognizes that this is the next step in the long road to trying to accept responsibility for something terrible that he did a long time ago.”

Dressed in dark slacks and a grey overcoat, Brown appeared in court with his sister-in-law by his side. He showed few signs of the horrific crash just three days earlier that police called an accident.

His response to the judge when asked for his plea on each charge was a barely audible, “guilty.”

Brown’s three daughters and two sons are part of the classical piano group The 5 Browns, whose albums have topped the classical music charts and who have appeared on “Oprah” and other shows. The group also has been profiled by “60 Minutes.”

Brown did not speak further during the hearing and declined to answer questions from reporters afterward. He remained free until his sentencing on March 31, after prosecutors said they do not consider him a threat.

Brown chose to enter the plea to bring a quick resolution to the case and did not want to “exacerbate the harm” by dragging out the proceedings, Shapiro said.

Utah County prosecutors charged Brown with one first-degree felony count of sodomy on a child and two second-degree felony counts of sexual abuse of a child.

He could face a sentence of up to life in prison on the first-degree felony and up to 15 years each on the second-degree felonies. Under the plea deal with prosecutors, he will serve at least a decade in prison.

The records filed Feb. 10 in the abuse case don’t identify any victim by name or indicate the relationship between Keith Brown and the alleged victims.

However, Kimball Thomson, a spokesman for The 5 Browns, said the charges involve Brown’s daughters and group members Desirae, 32, Deondra, 30, and Melody, 26. He declined to release further information on the women.

The Associated Press does not generally identify people who say they were sexually abused, but the Brown women have chosen to be identified and are cooperating with police, Thomson said.

None of the women were in court on Thursday, but in a statement issued to The AP late Thursday, Kimball said the sisters were satisfied with the plea agreement.

“The women were motivated to approach law enforcement out of concern for the welfare and protection of other young women and girls. All three sisters are at peace with the agreement that has been reached in this case,” Kimball said in the statement. “While clearly the current events surrounding the family are painful, the sisters were well prepared for this day, and are relieved and grateful to close this chapter in their lives.”

Kimball said the Brown sisters appreciate the respect shown to them by police and prosecutors, who sought their input at each stage of the case. He said none of the Brown siblings want to talk publicly at this time.

Thomson said the Brown children severed their professional relationship with Keith Brown in October of 2008. He was once the manager of The 5 Browns but now has no connection, Thomson said.

Court documents state the allegations stem from separate occasions between November 1990 and October 1992, November 1990 and November 1992, and March 1997 and March 1998 in Utah County.

There are no statutes of limitation in Utah that prevent prosecutors from filing such sex crime charges.

Utah County prosecutor David Sturgill said Lone Peak police brought the case to his office last year.

Shapiro couldn’t say exactly when Brown first spoke to police, but said the father first went to his Mormon church leader to confess. Sturgill wouldn’t comment further on the remarks.

Police were first contacted by Brown’s daughters.

“I think this deal was good for both sides,” Sturgill said. “This is something the victims wanted resolved, and I think the plea bargain is going to satisfy their needs.”

Brown and Lisa Brown, 54, the mother of the group members, were hospitalized after the Valentine’s Day crash that left the Porsche mangled and unrecognizable in Little Cottonwood Canyon on the east side of the Salt Lake valley.

The Browns were initially knocked unconscious, but Keith Brown woke and was able to call 911 from a cell phone.

The cause of the crash remained under investigation, although Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said speed appeared to be a factor in the accident.