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The Journal Gazette

Friday, March 14, 2014 1:44 pm

Wis. man sentenced for drugging, assaulting women

MADISON, Wis. (AP) A judge sentenced a Wisconsin man to 27 years in state prison Friday for drugging and sexually assaulting eight women.

Dane County Circuit Judge William Hanrahan said 29-year-old Brian Stowe will first serve 15 years in federal prison for his January conviction of sexual exploitation of a child. After that, Stowe will spend 27 years in state prison on the 27 felony counts he pleaded guilty to in December 16 counts of sexual assault and 11 counts of taking or possessing sexually explicit images of his victims.

The Madison resident kept his head down Friday as, one by one, three victims took the stand to give statements, each describing Stowe as a friend who would do favors for them. One described him as "like a brother" to her.

The judge's voice wavered as he described a "cold and calculated" series of attacks.

"The devastation ... is spread far and wide in this community and it makes us all feel less safe," Hanrahan said.

Police arrested Stowe last year after a 17-year-old girl reported that he drugged and sexually assaulted her as she lay unconscious in bed in October 2012, and took photos and videos of it. Madison police widened the investigation after the 17-year-old girl came forward, searching his apartment in November 2012 and finding images of more women on his computer and other devices.

None of the women knew Stowe took photos and video of them while they were unconscious and all expressed shock at the discovery of the explicit content on Stowe's computer. Some of the victims worked with Stowe at Epic Systems, a health software company in Verona, a Madison suburb, while prosecutors say photos of one woman were taken during an out-of-state business trip in 2010.

Before he was sentenced, Stowe said: "I'm not going to have the normal life I would have had I not committed these acts. Please do see the good that does exist in me."

Five of the eight victims were in the courtroom on Friday, and one called in. The Associated Press doesn't generally identify women in sexual assault cases.

Hanrahan pointed out Friday that there was no physical evidence that Stowe drugged the women, but said he'd seen the video and that investigators found a file on Stowe's computer labeled "drug assaults."

The 17-year-old told police that she and Stowe shared a cab home and that he told her he'd take her home. Instead, she fell asleep in his apartment after drinking a glass of water, she told the police.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said during the federal sentencing that at one point during the video Stowe made that the girl asked Stowe, "What are you doing?"

Prosecutors initially charged Stowe, who has dual U.S. and British citizenship, with 62 felonies, but his plea deal reduced it to 27.

The state asked for a sentence of 130 1/2 years, 84 1/2 in prison and 46 under extended supervision. Stowe's attorney had asked for the minimum bail that would protect the public and provide rehabilitation and punishment to Stowe.