An Owasso man has been arrested and charged with sexual abuse after he was accused of molesting a young girl, now 9 years old, over the span of two years.
According to the allegations against him, Chester Earl-McKinnly Browning, 37, began sexually abusing the girl in July 2014, when she was only 7 years old. The abuse reportedly continued for the next two years until at least July of this year, according to court records cited by local media.
On Tuesday, the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office charged Browning with three counts of sexual abuse of a child under 12, and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. Owasso police arrested him at his home the following day. He was booked into the Tulsa County Jailand was subsequently released upon posting $150,000 bond.
The sexual assault or molestation of a child is typically prosecuted under one of two Oklahoma laws: child sexual abuse (21 O.S. 843.5) or lewd acts with a child under 16 (21 O.S. 1123). The key distinguishing feature between these two laws is whether or not the defendant is someone considered to be responsible for the care of the child involved.
If a stranger, acquaintance, or family friend not responsible for the care and well-being of the child commits the act, he or she will likely be charged with lewd acts with a minor.
However, if the act is committed by a parent, stepparent, foster parent, guardian, or other person who is responsible for the care and well being of the child, the crime is prosecuted as child sexual abuse. Whereas lewd acts applies to crimes against children under the age of 16, child sexual abuse involves children under the age of 18.
In either case, penalties are enhanced for the molestation or sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12. For example, lewd acts is punishable by 3 to 20 years in prison if the child is aged 12 or older, but it is punishable by a minimum of 25 years in prison if the child is under the age of 12.
Child sexual abuse is punishable by a maximum of life in prison; however, if the child involved is under the age of 12, the crime carries a minimum penalty of 25 years.
Both lewd acts and child sexual abuse are felony sex crimes that mandate lifetime sex offender registration upon conviction.
Image credit: Victor
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