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"I wanted to express great regret to you and your family for my behavior," the apology began. "I have been under a great deal of stress. This does not provide any clear explanation for my behavior with [Tina]. I would hope that someday you and your family might forgive me, but I know that it is not possible now."

Brown added, "I of course have contacted my church and will be meeting with them this next week." Two years later, under oath, Brown admitted he never had contacted his church.

In a just world, detectives would have snapped up Brown's written confession and sprinted to a grand jury for a criminal indictment. A long prison sentence under Arizona's severe child-molesting laws would have seemed likely.

But nobody turned Jack Brown over to the cops. Cynthia Morse, for one, didn't want Brown to go to jail.

"I wanted to make sure that Mr. [Brown] could get the support and the counseling that he needed and was asking for at that point," Morse recalls.

She sent Brown to his onetime Phoenix marriage counselor, Dr. Sandy Mazen. Mazen says Morse told him she had reported the case to Child Protective Services, and so he never reported anything himself.

Brown met with Mazen numerous times over the next months. He told Mazen--well-known in Arizona as an "expert" in child molestation--of his sexual contacts with Tina: "He indicated that the victim had her underwear on, that he never removed her clothes, but that he had her rub his penis twice and that he masturbated to orgasm in her presence."

Harris and her kids returned to Denver after the molestations of Tina came to light. There she contacted Denver therapist Nancy Balkany. The protection of Brown continued. "No one ever used his last name with me," Balkany says. "It was always Mr. Doe."

Balkany also met with Tina, who discussed the molestations in some detail. Later that summer of 1987, Harris and her kids moved to Phoenix, where she and Tina started sessions with psychologist Herbert Collier.

Brown's luck still held. Balkany says she telephoned Collier to discuss which one of them should contact state CPS officials. "I am obligated by law to report that kind of thing," she testified. "I think he kind of put it off on me and I put it off on him, because [Harris] was residing in Phoenix now. The authorities when I called them in Denver said, `We can't do anything, you're in the wrong jurisdiction, nobody lives here anymore, and we can't do anything.'"

When the State of Arizona finally became involved, it found Heidi Harris unwilling to cooperate. A CPS caseworker called her during the summer of 1987.

"I told them I had absolutely nothing to say to them," she recalls, "that I was really under a lot of stress and did not want to talk to them. When they called me an unfit mother for not turning him in, I hung up the phone. It was very upsetting."

"I don't think he did it intentionally," she explained in a 1989 deposition. "I think he was sick. I don't think that going to jail is going to help him--I think getting mental-health help by a psychologist is going to help him."

HEIDI HARRIS MAY have smelled a potential windfall. While she wouldn't press criminal charges, she sued Brown in 1988 for "wrongfully, illegally and improperly" molesting Tina. Harris' attorneys asked Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Stanley Goodfarb to award her and her daughter $1.5 million.

Brown agreed before his trial not to fight the suit if Harris vowed not to go after his personal assets. He offered her a $32,500 cash settlement if she would consent to look to Brown's insurance company, State Farm, for the big money. Goodfarb didn't allow State Farm to contest the arrangement before he assessed damages. In March 1989, he awarded Heidi Harris and Tina $900,000.

In an effort to avoid having to pay that sum, State Farm's attorneys argued--logically--that child molesting is an intentional act. That should have excluded Brown from liability coverage. To State Farm, it was as if Brown had torched his home and then asked for insurance money.

In the criminal courts, Jack Brown's "intentions" wouldn't have mattered. If you molest a little girl, you're going to prison. But the Brown case is being fought in a civil, not a criminal, arena, and the settlement between Jack Brown and Heidi Harris turned enemies into allies against State Farm. The insurance company sued the pair--the molester and the victim's mother.

State Farm continues to ask, How can repeated acts of child molesting over a nine-month period be anything but intentional? And should an insurance company--and, in effect, its policyholders--be obligated to pay for an insured's criminal behavior?

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin