CLEVELAND — A Cleveland pastor was sentenced to 18 months behind bars Wednesday for two felony counts of compelling prostitution after investigators said he paid multiple teenage girls to engage in sexual acts with him in 2018.
“There is no acceptable excuse for my actions. They were immoral, unacceptable and the law says illegal,” Randy Brown told the courtroom.
Brown’s fall from grace comes after investigators found Brown, former lead pastor at Inner-City Missionary Baptist Church, used an online service for sex work to connect with multiple teenage girls and paid them for sexual acts.
“This is a man who should’ve known better,” Prosecutor Melissa Riley said. “Who should’ve known better than taking advantage of kids and paying them to have sex with him.”
Brown stated he never engaged in sexual activity with teenage girls, but instead went looking for a massage on a dating app.
“You were on these sites trying to look for, quote, a massage and if you really wanted a massage you would go to a regular massage place,” Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams said. “You don’t go to the pages that you were going to looking for a massage.”
A months-long investigation by the Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force found Brown worked with a madame, 20-year-old Joyce Richmond, to arrange those sexual encounters.
Richmond was also sentenced to 18 months behind bars Wednesday.
The 65-year-old pastor pleaded no contest to the charges in November.
Brown plans to appeal his 18-month sentence and said he engaged in inappropriate behavior because he was grieving at the time.
“I may not have grieved my father’s death properly,” Brown said. “Losing both my parents months apart from each other was traumatic.”
Collier-Williams told Brown she hopes he continues his therapy during his incarceration period.
“You will be able to do a lot of good in prison because as a minister I’m sure that they can use your services,” Collier-Williams said.
Brown will be granted time served for the amount of time he spent behind bars before bonding out earlier this year.
Upon release, Brown will be under strict adult supervision for five years and is now a Tier II registered sex offender.
Brown’s true bill indictment, obtained by News 5 in February 2020, accused him of, between August and November 2018, knowingly paying or agreeing to pay two female minors, aged 16 and 13 at the time of the incidents, to engage in sexual activity for hire. The 13-year-old minor turned 14 over the course of the alleged incidents, the indictment states.
Brown's indictment specifically references Ohio Revised Code 2907.21 A(3)(A), which states it is illegal to: “Pay or agree to pay a minor, either directly or through the minor's agent so that the minor will engage in sexual activity, whether or not the offender knows the age of the minor.”
According to Brown’s attorney, Brown was terminated as lead pastor at Inner-City Missionary Baptist Church.
Brown received his confirmation in May of 2013 with a Doctoral degree in Ministry Confirmation, according to Inner-City Church. He has previously worked as a bible teacher for The City Mission, the church's website states.