Trial For Former Gunpowder Falls State Park Manager Accused Of Rape To Begin On Tuesday
UPDATE, 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, March 29 - The trial has been delayed due to the jury selection process taking longer than expected. The new official starting date has not yet been announced.
TOWSON - The trial for the former Gunpowder Falls State Park manager accused of sexual assault and rape is set to begin on Tuesday.
In October, a grand jury indicted 72-year-old Michael Browning on 27 counts of alleged sexual assault and rape. He is currently being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson, and the trial is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
Browning was arrested in September after a woman accused the 45-year park employee of forcing her to have sex with him at her home in White Marsh. The woman told police that she had first met Browning as a teenager at a 4-H club meeting run by Browning’s wife. She later went on to work as a seasonal park ranger at Gunpowder Falls as an adult.
According to charging documents, the woman and Browning engaged in a yearslong consensual relationship, during which he helped her move into a park property in White Marsh. Browning possessed keys to the house and would arrive multiple times a day requesting sex, charging documents said.
According to police, Browning forced her to have sex with him 10 to 15 times during the relationship, both at the White Marsh home and at his home in Harford County.
Charging documents state that police secretly recorded Browning admitting to and apologizing for raping the woman. Browning’s attorney has denied the allegations and maintained that his relationship with the woman was entirely consensual.
Browning was suspended without pay following the allegations, and his police powers were revoked on September 29. According to Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Gregg Bortz, Browning’s last day at DNR was November 30.
The case has had lasting effects on the department. Several park service officials left DNR in November, including the former park service superintendent, the regional manager, and the Gunpowder Falls assistant manager.
Bortz said in a statement that the department is investigating “the serious and disturbing allegations” and took action in accordance with state law and guidance from the attorney general.