Chris Brown sentenced in assault on Rihanna
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge on Tuesday sentenced Chris Brown to five years’ probation and six months’ community labor for the beating of Rihanna and ordered the R&B singer to stay away from his former girlfriend for the next five years.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg told Brown that he could be sent to state prison if he violated any terms of his sentence, including an order to stay 100 yards (about 90 meters) away from Rihanna unless they’re attending music industry events.
A probation report prepared for Tuesday’s sentencing describes two previous violent incidents. It said the first happened about three months before the February beating while the couple was traveling in Europe; Rihanna slapped Brown during an argument, and he shoved her into a wall. In the second instance, Brown allegedly broke the front and passenger side windows on a Range Rover they were driving while visiting Barbados, Rihanna’s home country. Neither attack was reported, the probation report states.
Brown will serve his sentence in his home state — Virginia — and his community labor will be overseen by the police chief in Richmond.
The judge said she wanted to ensure that Brown, 20, performs physical labor instead of community service, such as mentoring young people. He will also undergo a year of domestic violence counseling.
Rihanna did not attend Tuesday’s sentencing.
At one point, Brown, who was accompanied by his mother, agreed to the terms of the sentence before Schnegg had finished going through them all.
The hearing had been planned for Thursday afternoon, but Brown’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, asked to move up the singer’s sentencing to Tuesday. A previous attempt to sentence Brown was postponed when Schnegg said she hadn’t received adequate assurances that Brown would perform physical labor if allowed to serve probation in Virginia.
The judge said she was satisfied with a letter presented by Geragos that Richmond Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood will directly oversee Brown’s labor program.
After Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault in June, Schnegg ordered the pair to stay away from each other and to not contact one another. Her order Tuesday essentially extended that until Brown completes his sentence.
Donald Etra, Rihanna’s attorney, has said he didn’t think the strict rules were necessary, but that he and Rihanna favored a less-stringent ruling that simply ordered Brown not to annoy, harass or molest the 21-year-old pop singer. He said after Tuesday’s hearing that Rihanna did not object to the stay-away order, which allows the former couple to be within 10 yards (9 meters) of each other if they are attending music industry events.
Schnegg said she was aware of reports that Brown had been spotted on several occasions in the same places as Rihanna.
“I am not amused with the chatter that has been on the airwaves and any violation of your probation in this case comes with the potential for state prison,” Schnegg told Brown.
A felony charge of making criminal threats was dropped during Tuesday’s sentencing.
“We feel that the sentence for Mr. Brown is an equitable one,” said Sandi Gibbons, a district attorney’s spokeswoman. “He has his future in his hands. He has control of his fate.”
Gibbons said Brown’s charge could eventually be reduced to a misdemeanor if he completes his sentence.
Brown was arrested Feb. 8, hours after he was accused of beating Rihanna.
The attack occurred in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park neighborhood as Brown drove a rented sports car. A Los Angeles police detective described a brutal attack in a search warrant affidavit filed in the case, stating Brown hit, choked and bit Rihanna and tried at one point to push her from the car.
Brown’s career suffered after his arrest, with sponsors dropping him and radio stations refusing to play his music. Both he and Rihanna had to cancel several high-profile appearances, including planned performances at the Grammy Awards the day of the attack.
In a probation report released after the sentencing, Brown is quoted as saying he was “depressed” since the attack and that he ”’does not want to carry on that cycle.’”
The report included letters of support for Brown from RCA/Jive Label Group Chairman Barry Weiss as well as an entertainment lawyer and a pastor.
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