Jury to begin deliberations in Steamboat child sex assault case

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John Holland Brothers Jr.

— The jury has been given the case and will begin deliberating Friday morning to decide the fate of John Brothers Jr.

The jury is considering 16 felony child sex assault charges that have been filed against Brothers, a former pastor and teacher at Heritage Christian School just outside Steamboat Springs.

Attorneys with the District Attorney's Office and the Public Defender's Office went into Thursday evening presenting their closing arguments. Brothers never testified.

Prosecutors have argued that seven years ago, Brothers molested a 12-year-old Steamboat boy. The boy, who was Brothers’ student and now a legal adult, testified it happened eight times and escalated over time from fondling to oral sex.

"It's not until seven years later with you folks that it is going to come to an end," Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Karzen said to the jury.

Karzen argued there was no reason to doubt the credibility of the boy, who provided details from eight incidents.

"These are the sort of bonafide details that you can't make up," Karzen said.

Karzen said that before the assaults, Brothers groomed the boy by first integrating himself into the community and school. He then showered the boy and his family with kindness and love and gained their trust.

The jury also heard testimony about allegations from a boy, who claimed he was assaulted by Brothers in Henderson, Kentucky.

"There is plenty of evidence, regardless of what happened in Kentucky, to know that John Brothers is guilty,” Karzen said.

Routt County Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann told the jury the boys were lying, and the accusations were a "job hazard for someone who is in position of dealing with youth on a regular basis."

She said the boys had turned lies into "big stories."

"Once a kid tells a story, and they tell it to the people who matter to them, whose attentions they desire, who they want to make proud, who they care about, once they tell a story like that they can't take it back," Uhlmann said.

She said the Steamboat boy told his father about the allegations in 2012 in order to regain his father's approval. Uhlmann said the boy had recently gotten in trouble for drinking and consuming marijuana.

Despite Brothers not testifying during the trial, the jury did get to hear Brothers defend himself during a recorded interview with Routt County Sheriff's Office investigator T.J. Sisto.

Brothers repeatedly told Sisto that "nothing happened," and that he was not angry at his accuser.

"My big question is 'Why the accusation?'" Brothers said. "What I am telling you right now is I did nothing sexually with him, and and I am totally in relief and peace knowing that is the truth."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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