Retired Hall of Fame pro football player Jim Brown began serving a 180-day jail term Wednesday in what Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo hailed as a precedent-setting domestic-violence case.
A defiant Brown chose to go to jail rather than accept conditions imposed by Superior Court Judge Dale Fischer that he complete a domestic violence counseling program, pay a fine and make a payment to a battered women’s shelter. Had he done so, he would have been placed on probation.
“I took no deal,” Brown told reporters at a court appearance Tuesday. “I’m not going to take a deal, and I’ll fight as long as I have breath in my body. That’s who I am. That’s who I’ve always been.” On Wednesday morning, he went stoically into custody.
Brown, 66, has faced domestic violence charges five times since the 1960s but was never convicted of anything until he was found guilty in 1999 of misdemeanor vandalism for smashing the windows of his wife’s car.
More than two years of appeals led to a recent state Court of Appeal decision that Delgadillo said Wednesday validated the principle that vandalism in the context of a domestic dispute is domestic violence.
“This is a great day for family victims,” said Delgadillo at a news conference an hour after Fischer denied pleas by Brown’s attorney, Milton Grimes, to delay the jail sentence. An angry Grimes later vowed to pursue an emergency writ of habeas corpus that would free Brown.
Brown’s wife, Monique, was in court Wednesday to support the former football star, but Delgadillo contended that it is important to pursue domestic violence cases even if victims eventually excuse the perpetrators.
All five of the women Brown has been alleged to have threatened or assaulted in the last four decades have refused to testify against him.
There are 40,000 complaints of domestic violence in Los Angeles County every year, and the Brown case is important because it has focused attention on the problem, the city attorney said.
Brown, unrepentant, said during a news conference at his home Tuesday that only the car, not his wife, had been assaulted. “These laws are basically unfair,” he said.
Brown and his wife have a 4-month-old child, and Grimes argued in court that this, and Brown’s work with young gang members to straighten out their lives, made it wrong to send him to jail.
But the judge said she believed that after two years of appeals, it was time for Brown to begin serving the sentence.
Delgadillo said that in order to avoid any conflict with Brown’s efforts to stem gang activity and ethnic discord in the Los Angeles County Jail, he would be sent to Ventura County to serve his sentence.