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Sometimes, it's the families that seem the most perfect that are hiding the most terrible secrets. On Thursday, Keith Scott Brown -- the 55-year-old father of the Julliard-trained siblings who make up the popular piano quintet The Five Browns -- pleaded guilty in a Provo, Utah, courtroom to sexually abusing his three daughters when they were children. The victims -- Desirae, 32, Deondra, 30, and Melody, 26 -- could have remained anonymous under Utah law, but have bravely come forward to the press.
In 2009, the Brown children published an autobiography called Life Between the Keys, but made no mention of the trauma in its pages. According to People, the sisters say they decided to expose their father in 2010, after learning that he was planning to manage child musicians once again; fearing that Keith might abuse other young girls, Desirae, Deondra and Melody reported their father to the police. Meanwhile, Keith's lawyers claim that it was his decision to come clean about the crimes, confessing them to a Mormon bishop last year.
Either way, there is one thing both sides agree upon: Keith is guilty. The Brown was charged last week with three felonies against his daughters. Days later, he got in a terrible car accident with his wife, the children's mother Lisa Brown, 54. On Thursday, still battered from the crash, he pleaded guilty to all charges -- one of sodomy on a child under 14 and two of child sexual abuse. Though under today's stricter laws Brown could have faced 25 years to life in prison, his lawyers lobbied for the punishment to be reduced to 10 years to life in prison, in keeping with statues at the time the crimes were committed.
Deputy Utah County Attorney David Sturgill tells the Salt Lake Tribune that the Brown girls have agreed to this plea deal. "They wanted their father to take responsibility more than anything else," Sturgill says. "And they felt there should be a serious punishment."
Keith's attorney, Steven Shapiro, calls his client's acts "reprehensible" and says Brown is willing to face the music for what he has done. "He's terribly remorseful for what has happened and what he's put his family through," Shapiro tells the Deseret News.
Along with brothers Gregory and Ryan, both in their mid-20s, Desirae, Deondra and Melody gained worldwide fame as The Five Browns in th. The home-schooled children each started studying classical piano seriously at age 3; they later became the first group of five siblings to be (simultaneously!) admitted to the prestigious arts conservatory Julliard. The virtuosos were known to play difficult pieces together with their pianos in a circular formation.
In 2002, when the youngest Brown siblings were still teenagers, the quintet appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and 60 Minutes (see clips below). They've since been featured on nearly every morning show and magazine program you can name.
For their part, the Brown siblings are handling the ordeal gracefully. On their website, they posted the video below, along with a message thanking fans for their support. "If one of us weren't here, (the music) wouldn't have the same feel to it," the siblings say in the video. "When we're old, the thing we'll look back on is our relationship... and our love for each other."
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