After reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, a former Tennessee sheriff’s deputy who was accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl over the course of 20 months will spend no time in prison and will not be required to register as a sex offender will serve no time in prison.
Brian O. Beck, 47, entered a guilty plea on Monday to a single count of aggravated assault in Shelby County Court, according to court records filed in that jurisdiction. A member of the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office confirmed to Law&Crime that Beck’s guilty plea was part of a settlement reached between him and prosecutors.
Judges decision in the Brian Beck Case
According to a sentencing order supplied to Law&Crime by the prosecutor’s office, the judge in the case suspended Beck’s notional four-year jail term and ordered that the defendant serve instead three years of probation. According to the probation order itself and a statement from the prosecutor’s office to a local television station, if Beck does not comply with the terms of his probation, he might face incarceration for the aforementioned four-year term. Beck is also required to perform 150 hours of community service, submit to random drug testing, and refrain from having any contact with the victim, according to the order.
The judge’s order, which is essentially a perfunctory form document with boxes to check and a few blank lines to fill in, provides only a brief insight into the reasons behind the actions taken by the parties.
The document says:
“the defendant is not likely again to engage in a criminal course of conduct” — at least “to the satisfaction of the Court” — and that “the ends of justice and the welfare of society do not require that the Defendant shall presently suffer the penalty imposed by law by incarceration.”
According to the court judgment, Beck will also not be required to register as a sex offender.
Beck was dismissed of his duties without pay by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in June 2018, according to a news release issued at the time by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office. Beck, who was 43 at the time, had been a member of the sheriff’s department since 2004 according to the document.
According to the press release, the girl was just 14 when she was allegedly sexually abused for the first time, according to the authorities. In Tennessee, the legal age of consent is 18 years old.
Earlier that day, a grand jury indicted Beck on two counts of rape by force or compulsion and two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure. Beck was taken into custody the next day.
Beck’s bond was initially set at $125,000, but it was later reduced to $90,000 after a few days, according to court records. Beck posted bail for a lower amount than the original amount.
Then there was absolutely nothing.
Every hearing and trial date on the public court docket from the day Beck was released on bond to the day he filed his guilty plea on Monday had been “reset,” according to the court’s website.
The Relatives Point of View
The victim’s relatives decided to express their dissatisfaction with the situation last June.
“It’s five years,” said the victim’s father in an interview with Memphis NBC affiliate WMC with reference to the start date of the alleged abuse. “I mean, she needs closure.”
The television station stated that it had agreed not to identify the father in order to protect the identity of the victim. However, at the time, the family had been waiting for a trial for about three years, dating back to the time the defendant was charged.
“I mean, there are damages, you know, major damages and unhappiness,” remarked the victim’s father, referring to the accident. “She just needs some closure. She just needs to see the movement of the ball, that’s what she needs to see.”
It’s COVID’s fault – The lame catchall excuse
As a result of the unique coronavirus outbreak, the father’s frustrations were broadcast on the radio along with comments from Beck’s attorney, Leslie Ballin, about a backlog of cases received. However, despite claims that the epidemic was undermining the right to a speedy trial, the District Attorney asserted that trials will soon resume in the local courts.
Plaintiffs, not victims, are granted the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial under the United States Constitution, which states in part: “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial” (emphasis added).
According to the public court docket, it is unclear whether the concerns about a rapid trial raised in the television story played a role in the course of the Beck case. Ballin did not answer to a request for comment on this matter from Law&Crime.
A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office declined to comment on why prosecutors agreed to a plea bargain. A spokeswoman would only inform Law&Crime that “the defendant’s guilty plea to a felony will remain on his record (there will be no diversion),” and that he will no longer be able to own a gun or work in law enforcement as a result of his plea.
According to a state website, law enforcement officers in Tennessee are subjected to extensive criminal history investigations before being hired. This is great, it just appears when they rape juveniles that are not subject to any type of actual prosecution.
According to court records, prosecutors filed a nolle prosequi, which is a decision to dismiss one of the allegations of rape and both counts of sexual battery against the defendant. It appears that prosecutors changed the charge of rape against the defendant to one of aggravated assault, the latter of which was the charge to which the defendant pleaded guilty.
An indictment can be dropped or charges can be added to a grand jury indictment if both the prosecutor and defendant agree on the decision, according to the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. Moreover, according to the regulations, a prosecutor may change an indictment without the consent of the defendant (before to the point at which jeopardy is established) provided “no substantial right of the defendant is prejudiced.” When a jury is sworn in, it is customary for the situation to become dangerous. No “substantial right” of the defendant would be “prejudiced” in this case since the change resulted in a more serious charge being replaced with a much less serious charge that was significantly less serious.
In the event that Beck had been convicted of the four counts on which he had been first accused by the grand jury, Beck could have faced a sentence of up to 90 years in prison.