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9/27/2013 6:00:00 AM
Jury: Van Brunt not guilty of molestation charges
Witnesses not found to be credible
Donald Van Brunt
Donald Van Brunt
Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - A Mohave County jury found longtime Kingman resident Donald Van Brunt not guilty of sexually molesting two boys years ago. The pair has since reached adulthood.

The jury spent less than 90 minutes deliberating four counts related to child molestation before arriving at a verdict.

According to juror Jim Moya, who spoke with the Miner after the case concluded, the jury took issue with testimony provided by certain witnesses.

"We didn't really find a bunch of credibility with some of the witnesses," said Moya. "The bottom line is, the state failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt."

Indeed, witnesses provided inconsistent and sometimes contradictory testimony during the trial, but what was said prior to charges ever being filed likely played a role in the verdict, as well.

The older of the two alleged victims, now 26, admitted on the stand that he told a former girlfriend and his father that Van Brunt raped him when he was in third grade, but later said the incidents involved inappropriate touching and oral sex - not penetration.

Another factor has less to do with the credibility of witnesses and more to do with the passage of time.

The older alleged victim claimed the abuse occurred in the mid-1990s and the younger alleged victim, now 19, said he was abused about a decade ago.

Neither of them could recall with any degree of certainty when the incidents occurred - or precisely what purportedly happened.

Prosecutor Gregory McPhillips said in his closing arguments that Van Brunt abandoned his defense theory when he took the stand on Wednesday and told jurors a botched prostate surgery about 20 years ago left him impotent, and therefore unable to do what the older accuser said he did in earlier testimony.

The original theory was that the accusers concocted the story in an effort to compel Van Brunt not to file charges against the older accuser for stealing from Van Brunt.

The man admitted he stole thousands of dollars out of Van Brunt's office safe before stealing the safe itself.

Defense attorney Michael Bailey told jurors in his closing argument that the witnesses simply could not be believed.

Jurors agreed.

The two alleged victims also acknowledged on the stand that they stole from Van Brunt on several occasions and that they both had issues with drug and alcohol abuse.

McPhillips was philosophical about the outcome. He told jurors in his closing arguments the case against Van Brunt was "a tough one."

"I think it's important that juries make these decisions," he said. "Anytime someone gets a fair trial, justice is done. It's also important that victims get their day in court regardless of the outcome."

Davidson in his opening statement said Van Brunt never should have been charged in the first place, based on the evidence and the credibility of the alleged victims. He reiterated that opinion following the verdict.

"We're obviously pleased and delighted with the verdict," said the Phoenix-based attorney. "We thought all along the case should have never been tried."

Van Brunt is a former Mohave County Republican committeeman who is credited with bringing several businesses to the Kingman area, such as the Griffith power plant.

After shaking hands with his attorneys, Van Brunt, 83, hugged his wife and daughter. About a dozen of the prominent resident's supporters, who sat in court throughout the three-day trial, celebrated the verdict with hugs and tears.

KRMC Sports Medicine
Related Stories:
• Column: Jury didn't make a partisan call
• More allegations allowed in Van Brunt case
• Molestation trial of former Kingman business leader under way
• Van Brunt defense launches offensive

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman Arizona

I would not be able to convict him and live with myself. If your abused you will remember the details maybe not the date but everything else. Besides just the allegation hurts a mans reputation. He's innocent live with it.

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: Uncle Anson

And each of tcomplains yet, like it or not, he was found innocent by a jury of his peers, and I reckon a democrat or 3 was on the panel. Each of you prejudge and form opinions based on who knows what motivation . What is plain to me is that as representatives of a certain political party, you only demonstrate your disrespect and disdain for the laws. No wonder we are where we are. And please please don't bring up historical examples of some perceived wrong in the past and blame some political party. For once, just once, stick to present subjects and leave the name calling and innuendo on the playground.

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: False Accusations False Accusations

Our family has known this family for years.
You can only take it for so long when people are constantly
Ripping you off when they knew all they had to do was ask
Mr. Vanbrunt. Clearly we never wish abuse on anyone, but this was clearly revenge from the Family having them
Arrested after being robbed once again. It has nothing to do with " Good Old Boy", it's justice.

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: Charles Murray

[Comment exceeded word limit.]

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: The One And ONLY Voice Of Reason

I must DISAGREE with the earlier postings here. The court found the accused NOT guilty, and it seems the jury had some very good reasons to doubt the accuser's testimony. In todays man-hating world, I am amazed to see any man accused of child molestation found not guilty, we are currently is an age of new-puritanism, where we are ready to burn anyone at the stake for being a witch, only today we are so eager to convict anyone accused of being any sort of sex offender.

Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013
Article comment by: Walter Kessler

Wow, did we really expect a guilty verdict in Mohave County. This good old boy Republican was also a former board member of the Mohave County Republican Central Committee. He sat on it with some of the other more colorful Republican members. I would not start to praise this individual on the business that he claims to have brought here. But it is apparent that you cannot convict a “Good Old Boy” Republican in Mohave County, after all they all seem to have Teflon. No conviction or any other crime will stick to any of them!

Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013
Article comment by: Spirit of OJ Reigns

Simpson was found not guilty in 1995. Does anyone believe he was innocent?

A pedophile was sentenced to prison in 1999 and claimed at sentencing that he was molested by his Scoutmaster (Van Brunt) as a child.

This convicted counterfeiter's family dysfunction points to serious questions about him, and that will never change.

Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013
Article comment by: dv s

To bad...!

Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

A shameful verdict, but we must live it. Sadly.

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