Amid calls for sexual predators to be taken down and repeated demands to change the justice system, a 2004 case of a teen sentenced to life in prison for murder has been frequently recirculated on social media. Although the then 16-year-old admitted to killing a 43-year-old man, her history being trafficked into sex slavery have many questioning who the real victim was in her case.
Cyntoia Brown, now in her twenties, was recently featured in an investigative report by Fox 17 News in Nashville. Although her case has been closed, the details surrounding her repeated sexual, physical and verbal abuse have alarmed many, who call for her to be freed.
In an interview with Fox 17, filmmaker Dan Birman, who documented several years of her case in the documentary Me Facing Life, discussed the multiple adversities Brown faced in her life.
The film revealed Brown was living with a man who went by the name Cut-throat, who forced her into a life of sex slavery. As a teenager, Brown was repeatedly raped, held at gunpoint, and abused by men. Her traumatic experiences and abuse made her very paranoid of her surroundings.
On one occasion, she met up with Nashville realtor Johnny Allen, who picked her up with the intention of having sex for money.
“She was picked up by a 43-year-old man,” Birman told Fox 17. “Cyntoia was 16 years old.”
According to the Associated Press, the two went back to Allen’s house, where he began behaving in a way that frightened Brown. Allen had a military background and numerous guns in the house, which made Brown scared for her life.
Brown tried to get him to nap, but the realtor kept getting up from bed and hovering over her. This prompted Brown to grab a gun from her purse and shoot him in the head, reported AP.
In the case, Brown admitted to shooting Allen, and for some reason, the court system was satisfied with her admission of guilt and did not look at the abusive environment which put her in that situation.
Derri Smith, the Founder of End Slavery TN, explained the issue with Brown’s case.
“She did kill someone, she deeply regrets it, but she was a child and she was being exploited,” Smith told Fox 17.
In addition, Brown’s mother, who was also raped in her life, testified drinking at least a fifth a day while pregnant. Brown’s attornies used medical scans to prove she suffered Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which affected her brain.
The jury sentenced Brown under the law at the time giving her life in prison. She’d only be eligible for parole after serving 51 years. She would be 67.
As details of her case became spread online, people started a MoveOn.Org petitioncalling for clemency.