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Pastor sentenced to 18 months in prison for compelling prostitution released from jail 8 days later due to COVID-19 concerns

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Posted at 11:48 AM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 12:31:00-05

CLEVELAND — A Cleveland pastor who was sentenced to 18 months behind bars in December for two felony counts of compelling prostitution was released from the Cuyahoga County Jail on a personal bond eight days later.

Randolph “Randy” Brown’s sentencing came 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,” Brown told the courtroom on the day of the sentencing hearing.

After he was sentenced, Brown’s legal counsel stated they would be appealing his sentence and asked that Brown be granted at-home bond pending that appeal.

During the hearing, Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams denied the request.

“There has been times in the past as I've done that, but what happens is people don't show up when they’re supposed to come back to court,” Collier-Williams said. “They cut the bracelet off. They disappear.”

However, Brown was released eight days later on a personal bond without paying a dime and sent home with an ankle monitor.

Court documents show Collier-Williams signed an order for Brown’s release citing “complications and effects of COVID-19 in the Cuyahoga County Jail” and the fact that “inmates are not being transported at this time to the Ohio Department of Corrections.”

Law enforcement officers who investigated Brown for 18 months before his arrest disagreed with the decision.

“That tracks their location. Ankle monitoring doesn’t track their activities as far as what they're doing online, phone calls they are making, conversations they're having with other individuals,” Jim Mackey said. “So, yeah, there would be that concern of what is he actually doing.”

Mackey and his team with the Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task force were in the courtroom the day of Brown’s sentencing.

“There are individuals in those professions that take advantage of some of our most vulnerable individuals in our community, as did Randy Brown,” Mackey said.

Mackey said he would have preferred a tougher sentence carried out in Brown’s case.

“He took advantage of people that were down and out when he should have been a person that somebody could turn to for help,” Mackey said. “Not to ruin their life.”

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office echoed those sentiments in a written statement to News 5.

“During the sentencing hearing, the State was asked our position on whether the defendants could report to prison at a later date. We objected and both defendants were remanded. Eight days later, the same question was asked. We again objected. No hearing was held, and the defendants were apparently released. We disagree with this decision.”

Mackey said Brown’s release a week after his sentencing could prevent other victims from coming forward and set a precedent for other accused criminals.

“I’m sure there's some victims that would see that as a deterrent,” Mackey said. “Several defendants in other cases that have referenced this case saying, ‘Hey, look, here's a guy that had sex with two kids and only got 18 months.’"

According to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, Brown will not be granted time served while under court-ordered home supervision and will serve the full 18 months in prison after his required self-reporting date on April 17.

Upon release following time served, 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.