Ex-Pastor Acquitted of Fondling Charge

February 4, 2006

A former pastor at a Braddock church was acquitted Friday of a charge that he fondled a woman after hypnotizing her during a counseling session.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski ruled following a nonjury trial that there was no evidence Charles N. Brown, 34, of Penn Hills, had actually hypnotized the woman or that she was unconscious during the June 2004 session in her Monroeville home.

Brown's accuser testified she secretly videotaped the session because she had begun having dreams that he was fondling her during previous visits. The head of Potter's House church removed Brown from his position as a pastor after the woman complained.

The videotape, which was played in court, showed Brown and the woman cuddling on her couch. But Plum police Chief Robert Payne, an expert in hypnosis, testified that the woman did not appear to be in a trance.

Brown, a former reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, declined to comment after the acquittal. His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Art Ettinger, said "justice was served."


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