Thursday, February 17, 2011

The 5 Browns

According to media reports, the father of the classical piano ensemble The 5 Browns, has pleaded guilty in a court of law to repeated sexual abuse of three underage girls. No names were mentioned, but his three now-grown daughters--who, together with their two brothers, make up the famous ensemble--issued a public statement saying their father abused them.

The three women, Melody, 26, Deondra, 30, and Desirae, 32, could have chosen to remain anonymous. There would have been speculation, of course, but the father's victims would not have been identified by authorities. But the girls realize that they are celebrities: hopefully, the national exposure the case is getting it will throw some light on abuse within families.

The family is also Mormon. The crimes themselves are not an indictment of the Mormon faith. In fact, the father's first steps in admitting his mistakes were in private conversations with his church leader. But the bottom line is, these types of crimes happen in families of all faiths.

The culture of the Mormon faith however represses conversation about sexuality and abuse. This only makes it more difficult for perpetrators to be brought to justice, particularly when they are members of the same family as the victims. And it makes it harder for the victims to find support.

So in this regard as well, it is to be hoped that this terrible ordeal will help start a conversation within the Mormon Church and its community of followers, a discussion toward breaking down the cultural taboos surrounding discussions of sexuality.

The public statement of the three women, the final, painful, horrifying admission of truth from the father, these will be worth more if they are followed with public outcry.

A spokesman told the Salt Lake Tribune that the ensemble's schedule, which includes upcoming performances on Feb. 28 and March 1, would remain unchanged. Currently, those curious about the ensemble will have to be content with information from Wikipedia, Sony and other sources, as the group's website,, has been disabled.

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