ORANGE COUNTY — An announcement from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office that a convicted child rapist was being released from prison after serving half a 49-year sentence set off a media firestorm and intense public reaction Wednesday.
But the 52-year-old Lawrence Joseph Brown’s freedom was short-lived, as he was arrested that same day on a parole violation and a third possible victim came forward.
Brown had been serving time in Chino State Prison after being convicted of brutally sexually assaulting two young girls 27 years ago. Authorities expected Brown to return to Orange County upon his release, which was scheduled to take place by 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to the DA’s press release.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas outlined his opposition to Brown’s release during a Wednesday afternoon press conference, detailing the horrific nature of Brown’s crimes and what Rackauckas deemed failures of the Justice System.
“Please help me spread the word to everyone in California that a few unelected, unreviewable, anonymous bureaucrats and psychologists have decided that starting Nov. 17, a dangerous, violent sex offender will be a free man to walk the streets of Orange County and prey upon our children,” began Rackauckas.
Rackauckas went on to describe the crimes Brown was convicted for, the abduction of two girls, ages 8 and 7. In both cases, Brown snatched the girls off the street in broad daylight, transported them in his red van and raped them before letting them go amidst threats of death.
Despite Brown’s 49-year sentence, the legal system’s workings and those responsible for evaluating offenders such as Brown led to the instance of his being paroled after 25 years.
“It’s hard to imagine what facts could lead to this determination, unless the sole basis of analysis is that Brown has not violently kidnapped and sodomized any other little girls while in prison for the last 25 years,” said Rackauckas.
As the DA’s office continued to update the status of Brown’s release, and to lobby the Department of Mental Health against it, another woman stepped forward who also believes she was a childhood victim of Brown’s in the late 1970s.
This new revelation temporarily put a hold on Brown’s release, according to a separate release from the DA’s office, but the hold was overruled by Chino State Prison Deputy Warden Richard Alvarado and Brown was released from prison some time between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Upon his exit from prison, however, as detailed in the final press release, Brown was tailed by Tustin police and parole agents who determined he was riding with a woman, a violation of his parole. The woman was identified as Ruby Huggler, of Tustin, with whom Brown had previously stayed during another brief parole in April 2010.
Police pulled the vehicle over and Brown was taken back into custody for the immediate parole violation and transported back to Chino State Prison.
Given the appearance of an additional victim and other circumstances, the Orange County DA is now able to pursue a petition identifying Brown as a sexually violent predator, said the final press release. Designated an SVP, the legal system could keep Brown in a mental institution until he completes his criminal sentence.