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Tina told her mom she didn't want to go to Jack Brown's home that night. As usual, family friend Brown had agreed to baby-sit for Tina and her younger brother at his posh Biltmore Estates condo while Harris went to dinner.
"The reason she did not want to go with [Jack] any longer was because he was making her rub him all over," says Harris, a divorced woman in her thirties. "I asked her what exactly she meant. And she just reiterated that he was making her rub him all over."
Heidi Harris was so upset she went into the bathroom and threw up. Tina approached her moments later. "She said, `By the way, Mommy, white stuff came out.'"
Shortly after that revelation, Jack Brown arrived to pick up the kids.
"I was in a bad state of shock and didn't know what to do," Harris says. (Tina and Heidi Harris are pseudonyms. The other names in this story are real.) "I asked Jack if it was true. He admitted the whole thing to me."
®MDRV¯ Another mother in a similar situation may have pounded hell out of the man who had been molesting her daughter. But Heidi Harris didn't. Even Brown--then a 39-year-old real-estate broker--was surprised at how the child's family handled the matter. Harris' brother, for example, took Brown outside for a quiet talk.
"He told me what he had done--sexually molested her," the brother says. "He begged my forgiveness and said he was sick about it. He kept saying, `I can't believe you are not beating me up. I think I would kill somebody if they did that to my daughter.'"
The Harris clan didn't kill Jack Brown. More surprising, they never even told the police what he'd been doing to Tina. To this day, Brown has evaded prosecution and prison for crimes that he confessed to in writing and under oath. For reasons she never has fully explained, Heidi Harris didn't want him prosecuted. Neither did the therapists who treated Brown after Tina implicated him.
Not only has the family declined to take action; so have two states. Brown molested Tina in Arizona and possibly Colorado, and a jurisdictional glitch helped him escape justice. Authorities in those states apparently looked to the other to take command of the case. Neither did.
Jack Brown hasn't had to pay for his crimes. In fact, he's asked his insurance company to do it for him.
In the Brown case, the hunger for money has been stronger than the desire for vengeance. Maricopa County's civil courts have become the site of this bitterly fought battle. Heidi Harris, who didn't seek prosecution, instead demanded a huge cash settlement from Jack Brown. When he didn't pay up, she sued him.
The pair settled their suit in 1989. But in a logic-defying twist, the molester and the victim's mother are now on the same side against Brown's insurance company, State Farm. And the company has been ordered to pay Tina and her mother $900,000 in damages from Brown's liability coverage.
Because of the case's unlikely turns, according to an attorney involved in the morass, "The molested child, the molested child's mother and the molester are all on the same side."
Every child molester should have Jack Brown's good fortune. Even the court files protect him. They refer to Brown with rare exception as "John Doe." UNTIL 1987, MOST SAW Jack Brown as just another middle-aged guy having a rough time finding his niche. He was raised in suburban Alexandria, Virginia, the son of a prominent State Department lawyer who once served as that agency's inspector general.
Brown was graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1969 with a degree in finance. He then served a two-year stint in the navy that included a yearlong tour of Vietnam. After an honorable discharge, Brown returned to college, earning a master's degree in communications. He worked for the civil service for a time, then in 1977 became a partner in a Denver investment firm.
Brown stayed with the firm for six years, during which time he met his future wife. The couple developed marital problems that in 1982 caused them to meet with a Denver counselor.
"He did not like being touched or touching her," counselor Brigitte McBroom recalls. "He wished to keep his clothes on and wished for her to keep her clothes on, or at least some clothing so that the bodies would not be exposed to touch or sight. And that he just behaved, in her words, kind of weird around the whole issue of lovemaking."
During this time, the Browns met Heidi Harris and her then-husband through mutual friends. The Harrises had two small children, Tina--born in 1979--and a son born in 1982. In 1983, the Harrises rented Mrs. Brown's Denver home.
After Brown's investment firm broke up in 1983, he spent about a year as a financial consultant for a wealthy Texas family. Heidi Harris says Jack Brown often baby-sat for her kids during this time.