Despite acquittal, Brown will still face Senate ethics inquiry

Charlie Megginson Government, Headlines

Brown

Brown was found not guilty Thursday on charges of offensive touching and disorderly conduct.

Despite being acquitted Thursday on charges of offensive touching and disorderly conduct, State Sen. Darius Brown will still face a Senate Rules and Ethics Committee review when the General Assembly reconvenes. 

In a statement following news that the jury found the Wilmington Democrat not guilty on all charges, Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola said it remains clear that “Sen. Brown has been involved in multiple confrontations in public spaces over the last year, regardless of whether that behavior rose to the level of criminal conduct.”

“As elected representatives of the people we serve, I believe we owe it to Delawareans to hold ourselves to a higher level of accountability and conduct,” Sokola said. “In the coming weeks, the Senate Rules and Ethics Committee will fully review all of the allegations leveled against Sen. Brown, and I will have no further comment on the matter until that time.” 

During the two-day trial at the Leonard L. Williams Justice Center in Wilmington, the victim accused Brown of hitting her then throwing a martini glass at her during an argument at Taverna Rustic Italian Restaurant in May of 2021. 

Each misdemeanor charge carried a statutory maximum penalty of 30 days in prison.

The prosecution called five witnesses to the stand, including the victim, a patron at the restaurant, a bartender, a waiter and a State Police Trooper.

None of the other witnesses saw the altercation occur and only turned to see what was going on after they heard the glass shatter. 

Further complicating matters for the prosecution, the incident occurred just out of view of the lone security camera in that part of the restaurant. 

Ultimately, the jury of seven women and five men found that sufficient evidence did not exist to convict Brown of disorderly conduct or offensive touching, or the lesser charge of attempted offensive touching.

The victim, who was sitting in the back of the courtroom when the verdict was announced, left the room quickly after the jury was excused.

Following the verdict, Brown’s attorney, Bill Rhodunda, spoke with reporters outside of the courtroom.

“At the outset of this case, I advised my client to have this matter tried in the courts, not in the media,” Rhodunda said. “That’s why my client has made no statements on this matter since the date of his arrest. We came to the court, we presented the case. We’re very pleased with the verdict. It’s the verdict that we expected and we’ll have no further comments on this matter.”

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said in a statement that she’s grateful to the jury and the prosecutors for their service but disappointed in the outcome of the case.

“Above all else I am proud of the victim, who showed tremendous courage in facing the defendant, the jury and cross-examination in telling her story,” Jennings said. “These cases are notoriously challenging to prosecute and, in particular, for victims to endure.”

“The sad reality is that our society’s grip on the gravity of these crimes is still maturing,” Jennings continued. “Each year there are thousands of similar cases here and across this country that never attain this case’s profile, whose victims’ suffering happens in the shadows, and who have to hear the same verdicts rendered.”

“But if we had to go back and decide again, approached by the same victim, each of us would do the same thing: seek full accountability and justice for the victim. Nobody should be beneath justice. Nobody should be above the law.”

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