Lawrence C. Browning was known to the children who lived near his home in Liberty as the “cookie man” because he routinely gave them treats when they visited.
But Clay County authorities called the 69-year-old Browning a “cookie monster” because he sexually assaulted some of those children.
On Friday, a judge sentenced Browning to four life sentences plus 231 years in prison.
Browning pleaded guilty Dec. 23 to eight criminal charges, including multiple counts of statutory sodomy, attempted statutory sodomy, sexual exploitation of a minor and possessing child pornography.
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Authorities said the victims were girls ages 5 and 3.
The incidents occurred from April to September 2013. Browning exposed himself and told the girls to do something sexual to him. He also tried to pull down the pants of one of the girls. Browning also threatened to punish the girls if they told anyone what he did to them.
During the sentencing hearing, the victims’ parents said Browning’s crimes were “unspeakable” and said they have sought professional counseling. The couple said they moved because of what happened.
“Our lives have been forever changed,” said the father. “No man’s freedom is worth the innocence of a child.”
The courtroom was packed with friends and relatives of the victims as well as law enforcement officers who worked on the case. Sheriff’s deputies were positioned throughout the courtroom during the sentencing.
Browning apologized for his actions.
“I broke the law,” he said while sobbing. “I let myself fall so deep that I couldn’t get out.”
Prosecutors said investigators recovered more than 500 images of child pornography on Browning’s computer. They also found 35 photographs he took that included images of inappropriate acts that involved the victims.
Before pronouncing the sentence, Circuit Judge Larry D. Harman said the crimes were “beyond the belief of what a child should have to go through.” Harman then told Browning, “I will not take the chance that another little kid will play games in your presence.”
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