Former correction officer jailed today for six months and gets 10 years probation in sexual assault case
A 43-year-old former correction officer at the Albion Correctional Facility was sentenced this afternoon to six months in Genesee County Jail and 10 years probation after pleading guilty last month to one count of first-degree sexual abuse for a sexual act involving a woman incapable of giving consent.
It is a Class D felony.
Adam H. Brokaw, (inset photo) of Northern Boulevard, Batavia, will also have to register for permanent listing on the Sex Offender Registry, although his (threat) level (for reoffending) won't be determined until midsummer.
The case stems from a party at his house with a theme of "high school reunion" on Friday night, Nov. 10, 2017.
Brokaw and his wife, Ellen, invited several friends, including the victim, who said in court she had been friends with Ellen for about five years and felt safe and comfortable around the Brokaws. When she arrived, she headed downstairs where everyone was at the bar, including some members of law enforcement.
She joined with others in "doing shots." Over the course of the evening, she told police, she drank "an entire bottle" of Goldschläger -- Swiss cinnamon schnapps -- a liqueur that is 87 proof. She got sick and vomited outside over the porch railing. Adam Brokaw, according to court testimony, knew this and knew how incapacitated she was. The victim's children had to be brought over to the Brokaws because their mother was not able at that point to care for them at home.
Later the victim passed out on the couch, unconscious. Before that happened, she was unable to sit up unassisted and she could not keep her eyes open.
Her pants had been unbuttoned by Ellen and Adam "to make her more comfortable" as she slept on the couch, according to statements in the presentencing report.
But her rear end was hanging out and she felt the cold couch, the victim said in court today, as she came in and out of consciousness.
Ellen had gone to bed and Adam, who was himself intoxicated, stayed up to pick up the post-party mess.
At some point in the early morning hours Saturday, she recalls her left leg being swung over the couch and her foot planted on the floor. The victim said she felt a man fondling her breasts and penetrating her vagina with his fingers, then attempting to penetrate her with his penis. She heard the click of a camera and saw a flash. She still hears the heavy breathing.
When she came to, she found her underwear twisted all around. She felt she had been sexually assaulted and woke up Ellen.
"I had to keep your filth on me until I could get to the hospital," the victim said during her victim impact statement before sentencing.
"I sometimes think what if my children had woken up and seen you raping me?"
Ellen Brokaw drove the victim to the hospital.
"There are 20 steps in a rape kit," the victim said ruefully. "Twenty steps."
They poked and prodded and swabbed inside and outside every orafice of her body, gave her tests for sexually transmitted diseases, drew her blood, and bagged her underwear and other clothes for evidence. They scraped under her nails and took a hair sample. They gave her a "Plan B" pill (morning after emergency contraception pill) that made her experience severe uterine cramps.
"I'm still in shock. I am disgusted. You are disgusting," she hissed, adding that once she got home "I couldn't make the shower hot enough or long enough. And afterward, I still felt your filth on me."
"You're a piece-of-shit scumbag who took advantage of me," the victim said, although he took "an oath to protect and serve."
In the aftermath, her life has become a regime of pysch meds for depression and anxiety; a sexless marriage -- for now -- because she has flashbacks and trust issues; the loss of a once-close circle of friends; the loss of her old self, her confidence and sense of self worth; all the anger, the aloneness.
"This stops today," the victim said, vowing to regain her strength and independence.
Before returning to the gallery, she thanked Batavia Police Detective Thad Mart, her therapist, UMMC staff and family members for helping her. She was supported in Genesee County Court by at least 15 people.
Brokaw, who is at least 6'5" and solidly built, with shorn hair, sat at the table and stared frozenly ahead when the victim held forth from the podium. He wore tan pants, black athletic shoes, and a pale persimmon-colored T-shirt. His wife, parents, and one other supporter sat behind him in the gallery.
Next First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini was incredulous that the PSI examiner talks in the report about "the defendant's pain."
She accused Brokaw of attempting to minimize his role in the sexual assault -- by denying he attempted to penetrate her with his penis or that he fondled her breasts, of lying, of portraying himself as a victim, one who has been villified and has become a pariah.
In fact, it was only after DNA tests came back on April 26, 2018 that he admitted to his family that "something happened," Cianfrini said, underscoring her point that by no means did he own up to anything straightaway.
"She was raped and he perpetually lied about it for an extended period of time," Cianfrini said.
At this point, the defense attorney, Matthew Lembke, stood and said it was "improper" for Cianfrini to speak as she was, and that it amounted to her asking that Brokaw be punished for exercising his rights as an American citizen and for adhering to his counsel's advice.
He asked Judge Charles Zambito to strike the First ADA's comments from the record. Zambito declined and said he had no intention of punishing anyone for exercising their rights.
Brokaw shifted in his chair and cupped his chin with one hand and grasped his elbow with the other.
Cianfrini mentioned the glowing letters included in Brokaw's file that speak of his integrity and honor, and reminded the court that this same person ejaculated on the victim: There were seven different areas of the victim's underwear and three areas of her body that tested positive for Brokaw's semen.
A letter said Adam Brokaw is the kind of man who would get up at 2 a.m. to feed a stray kitten. Cianfrini said, and yet, the same man took advantage of "a helpless victim who couldn't get away" in the wee hours that November morning.
"He knows what prison will be like for him," Cianfrini said. "We should send a message that his conduct is reprehensible."
She asked for six months of jail and 10 years probation for Brokaw.
Lembke tried for the better part of an hour to sway the judge against any incarceration, saying his client is a veteran, with a fine record of service in law enforcement. He added that Brokaw's highly unlikely to ever do such a thing again; his chance of recividism is nill.
Lembke also disputed the prosecutor's contention that he acted as he did because "he thought he could get away with it" and said his client knows he should never have behaved as he did. Lembke said Brokaw has never pretended that he did nothing wrong.
"He never blamed anybody or suggested she made things up," Lembke said.
Then he went on about the philosophical struggle of humankind -- wrestling with the eternal questions such as why bad things happen and why good people endure famine, the loss of a child, sexual assaults and unspeakable acts of cruelty. He concluded by saying the answers are never simple because people are complicated.
Brokaw's actions were an aberration, an opportunity seized in the moment, fueled by alcohol.
"There's no denying what happened here is inexcusable," Lembke said. "(The victim's) feelings are right and there's just no excusing it."
Still, Lembke maintained nothing would be served by jail time, only retribution.
His client struggles with his own depression and anxiety since the high-school-reunion-party-gone-wrong, "self-inflicted or not."
"He regrets every minute of it," Lembke said. "He says 'I can't say how sorry I am. I will regret it for the rest of my life.' "
Lembke reminded the court to remember Scripture and to "love the sinner, but hate the sin."
He sought a sentence of probation only.
Zambito said maybe retribution shouldn't be part of a sentence but it's part of life. The community has to have faith in the judicial system. The court is obliged to fashion a sentence that bolsters that faith, and provides justice to all parties to the best of its ability.
"Otherwise the people would resort to self help," Zambito said.
The judge acknowleged Brokaw's military service, his former career in law enforcement, and his family. He said the letters sent to him pleading for lenience and mercy are "not his job."
This case was difficult.
"Alcohol was a factor," Zambito said. "But you allowed this to proceed. Someone came to your house and she trusted you and felt safe. She had to endure a violation, physically, personally, emotionally.
"I don't think you're a monster, but you committed a monstrous act. But you did this and people need to have confidence that there are consequences."
Zambito said he could have sentenced Brokaw to up to seven years in state prison.
Brokaw was led away to jail immediately after signing paperwork. The judge also granted the prosecution's request for two stay away orders of protection for the victim and her husband, which will remain in effect until April 26, 2029.
In the fall, when school begins, the orders can be modified to allow incidental contact at school-sanctioned activities and sports since the couples' children attend the same school and are on at least one sports team together.
Fees totaling more than $1,900 must also be paid by Brokaw, including: $489.69 for restitution; $1,000 to a victims' fund; $300 felony surcharge; $50 DNA fee; $25 for SORA; etc.
"Nobody wins in this situation," the victim said.
Wow. I must say, I was really shocked to read this on TheBatavian. I really enjoy checking in on here to see what is up in the community and on the minds of others. I found this news article uncomfortable to read, and somewhat more of a trashy paperback novel. While I appreciate the news, I am not sure the sordid details where necessary. I certainly hope that TheBatavian has a few regular young readers, but I am not so sure this piece is appropriate for them. I am in no way suggesting censorship, rather just questioning the need for all the details. Just my opinion.
More importantly, I hope the victim and her family can get their lives together and I hope that Mr. Brokaw has a very unpleasant stay.
A warning to women...never allow yourself to drink so much that you become incompacitated, especially if you have children.
Mr. Chismar, I'm only guessing here, but I'd say that uncomfortable is exactly what Billie was going for. Men, particularly young men need to understand in no uncertain terms the long term effects an impulsive act they might do on a passed out woman will have on her. I'm not quite eloquent enough to get my exact point across, but us guys need to be made uncomfortable for us to understand. At least in my case anyways.
After reading what I wrote above, it looks like I might be admitting to taking advantage of a passed out woman. For the record, I have never, nor would I. What I mean is sometimes we, I, have not taken this kind of thing seriously, made excuses for the guy like hey, everyone was drunk or he must have got his signals crossed, so on and so on.
There is no excuse.
News isn't always pretty. It's not our job to sanitize the world for you. We do our best to report reality not the world as you wish it would be.
Scott, Judge Zambito said this was a difficult case, and it was. It was difficult to sit in court for more than two hours and listen to the arguments and especially the victim's impact statement.
The victim, in my opinion, showed tremendous bravery for speaking as explicitly as she did. That is not common. She held nothing back.
Both attorneys did their jobs to their utmost and Zambito listened carefully to all of it.
The victim's last quote in the story sums it up: "Nobody wins in this situation."
Virtually no one in the gallery, that cleared out well after 5 p.m., left with dry eyes.
I do not include details such as found in this story salaciously or to mimic a "trashy paperback novel," which I never read FWIW.
If this story was uncomfortable to read, it was also not easy to write. Hard news can be exactly that.
I take reportage seriously; it is my lifelong calling. I believe I have integrity and I try to report accurately, fairly and colorfully.
Working in journalism is not for the squeamish, the faint of heart or the namby-pamby. Reading real journalism is not either.
I think Billie did a fantastic job reporting on a very difficult story. The evidence for both sides was described objectively and impartially. The repercussions for all involved - the victim, the perpetrator, friends and relations, shows the depth and complexity of how small momentary choices can have huge impact. And last but not least, love the description of the defendant's apparel, but not the victim's; it makes a subtle and powerful point. Much credit to you Billie, for a fine, professional job on a difficult story.
Comment deleted for inappropriate language and personal insult.
Billie, great article! I enjoy your descriptive style of writing, It was as if I was there.
Candace's comment is what's known as victim blaming. Also, if you're a former teacher I am sad for the students you taught to spell.
Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them. Incapacitated is not spelled incompacitated.
Thomas, you're right about the petty grammar comment. One misspelled word does not make another person's opinion or advice invalid.
Thomas, you have been caught and convicted by the Grammar Police. You have to write that word 100 times.
A comment was deleted for name calling.
Billie, I hope they spelled the name in question, correctly.
Candace was offering advice, not a defense. Some men are very crafty at setting the table.
Right On All.. As Waylon Jennings used to say "I was wrapped up in my music,,, that`s one I never saw..." the same with Candace`s error. Howard & Mrs. Owens have rules, which I violated. Mrs. Owens simply reiterated testimony from a court proceeding, where I used it as part of my opinion. Period. How anyone can commit such a heinous act, is beyond my imagination!! How did the camera fit in? Who undid her pants, and why? This all goes to culpability. The main insult was the slap on the wrist. Six months riding around in a sheriff`s car and helping with dispatch duties. No way this guy goes behind bars! They all stick together!
Thomas, your first comment that was deleted by Howard was because, in your words, you "simply reiterated testimony from a court proceeding, where I used it as part of my opinion." So you were on notice that there's no name calling allowed by commenters to the site, as if you didn't long ago already know that.
Then subsequently, you made the same mistake again by additional name calling and therefore another comment made by you was deleted.
The rules are not onerous or murky: No name calling; no profanity; use your real name when commenting. Easy-peasy. Grown folks should be capable of this.
A comment was deleted for a personal insult.
FWIW: Grammar police are cutting it real close to personal insult. The grammar police (or spelling police or punctuation police, etc.) have no place on The Batavian. If you can't suss out what somebody is saying despite any typos are misspellings then that is your problem, not theirs.
Thomas, your comment in #23 is illogical. Just because I reiterate to you all three rules -- WOW! THREE! -- does not mean YOU broke all three rules. You, to be V-E-R-Y clear broke the rule against in the first instance, profanity; and in the second, name-calling. Sometimes those are both one and the same.
Just because the third rule -- using your real name -- is included here does not mean you did not do so, it is simply a reminder.
I hope this clarifies things for you. Life gets harder.
...to Howard's point - if the grammar used or a misspelling causes the point the writer was trying to make become ambiguous, there's always the "whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" method to clear it up. Simply ask "what did you mean by that?"
Tim, it's fine to ask somebody to clarify. It's something different to shine a light on a mistake. In the first instance, you're humbly seeking knowledge. In the second, you're just being rude. That doesn't help move the conversation along.