Published July 17, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A man plans to plead guilty to charges he helped enslave and beat a mentally disabled woman and her daughter and steal her pain medication, his attorney said Wednesday as a judge scheduled a hearing for a plea.
The charges announced a day earlier against Daniel Brown reflect the lesser degree of his involvement in the case, said his attorney, Russell Bensing, who noted Brown spoke to government investigators at the time of his arrest.
"I would anticipate that we would enter a guilty plea," Bensing said.
Brown's case was referred to a federal judge for an arraignment and plea. No date was set. A message seeking comment was left with federal prosecutors.
Brown is among four people charged with targeting and recruiting the woman in 2010 and holding her until October in a house in Ashland, 80 miles northeast of Columbus.
An indictment against three other defendants alleges the woman was denied food, sexually assaulted and threatened with dogs and snakes.
Jodie Callahan, Jessica Hunt and Dezerah Silsby were indicted Tuesday on five counts including forced labor, acquiring a controlled substance by deception and theft of government benefits related to allegations they forced the woman to use her public assistance money to buy groceries and cigarettes for them.
The indictment said Callahan forced the woman to engage in sexual acts with him and threatened he and Hunt would kill her if she told anyone.
In November 2011, Callahan and Hunt forced the woman to hit her child, captured the beating on video and threatened to turn it over to police as a way of controlling her, the indictment said.
Callahan's attorney declined to comment, saying he hadn't seen the indictment. A message was left with Silsby's attorney.
Hunt's attorney said his client will plead not guilty and "vigorously denies all the allegations."
Public defender Ed Bryan said the charges stem from overeager police and prosecutors trusting the word of people who had something to gain by lying. He said the woman was not held as a slave.
"This is not a person who was chained in a basement in a home in the middle of the woods," he said. "This was a person coming and going as she pleased, spending a significant amount of time away from this home, and she came back to this home of her own accord and never made these claims until she herself was facing charges."
Callahan's mother, Becky Callahan, has said the allegations against the defendants are "all lies." She says the woman was friends with her son and Hunt, her son's girlfriend, and they tried to help her by offering her a place to live.
The charges against Brown and the others allege they hit the woman enough to require a hospital visit for pain medicine, which they took from her.
Police first got involved last fall when the woman was arrested on a candy bar shoplifting case and asked to be jailed because people had been mean to her.
The woman later pleaded guilty to child endangering and was sentenced in February to about five months in jail. She served only part of that sentence.
Associated Press writer Amanda Lee Myers in Cincinnati contributed to this report.