Former Gunpowder Falls State Park Manager Acquitted On All But One Charge
BALTIMORE COUNTY - After five days of testimony, and more than a day of deliberation, former Gunpowder Falls State Park Manager Michael Browning was acquitted of all but one charge.
The 72-year-old faced 27 counts of sexual crimes. Nine counts each of second-degree rape, second-degree assault, and fourth-degree sexual offense. He was ultimately found guilty of only one fourth-degree sexual offense charge.
Browning will return to the courthouse on Monday for sentencing. His lone charge carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in prison.
Browning was arrested in September after a woman accused the 45-year park employee of forcing her to have sex with him. 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. After his indictment, Browning was accused of rape by another woman.
Both accusers provided testimony during the trial, describing three separate instances where they say Browning forced himself on them.
The prosecution argued that although Browning and the women did engage in consensual sex, there were times when consent wasn't given.
The jury was also presented with two videos during the trial. The prosecution played a recording of a call from September where, according to police, Browning admits to raping the first accuser. The jury also watched the police interview with Browning that happened about eight hours after the call.
Browning's attorney Gary Bernstein asserted that the sexual encounters were all consensual. He presented texts to the jury sent by the accusers to Browning. The texts include messages such as "I'm really sad I'm not pleasing you" and "I need pillow talk." The defense also pointed out the use of emojis with sexual connotations in the texts.