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Lake Co. official battered pregnant girlfriend, arrested on felony charges, cops say
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Lake Co. official battered pregnant girlfriend, arrested on felony charges, cops say

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Police arrested an embattled Lake County elected official Monday on felony charges of battering his pregnant girlfriend.

Lake County Recorder Michael B. Brown was arrested at his Lake Station home on multiple domestic violence charges alleging he battered and bruised, threw a coffee cup at and violently shook his pregnant girlfriend, including shortly before she gave birth.

The victim told police Brown nearly struck a 3-month-old baby with the hurled mug. The victim also said Brown put his fingers in her mouth to pry her lips open and make her "look like the Joker from the Batman movie" while telling her to shut up in front of three young children, according to charging documents.

Hobart police arrested and escorted Brown from his Lake Station residence about 3:20 p.m. Monday.

He faces multiple felony charges: two counts of domestic battery resulting in bodily injury to a pregnant woman, two counts of domestic battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, two counts of domestic battery, criminal confinement and neglect of a dependent. All of the preliminary charges are either level 5 or level 6 felonies.

A friend of Brown's girlfriend called police after she reached out to him "because things are getting worse and she is scared," court documents state. The friend told police the victim feared for her safety.

Investigators said they also discovered an earlier 2016 report of domestic battery in which Brown's previous girlfriend suffered visible red marks on her elbows and was treated for injuries to her ribs. That victim told police she did not want to press charges and would not provide police with information "due to her ex-boyfriend being the Lake County recorder for the state of Indiana, and he would retaliate against her," records state.

Police interviewed Brown's most recent girlfriend about multiple alleged domestic battery incidents that took place Feb. 1, Jan. 25, last June and in October 2019, according to the charging documents.

The woman told police Brown physically abused her when she confronted him with topics, such as "when she received a text message of a girl engaging in sexual deviate conduct with Brown."

"(She) stated Brown often gets angry when he is confronted by her for him having sexual relations with other women or about him lying to her," according to the charging documents. "She advised he would normally 'take it out on the walls' and would throw and break things, but things are getting worse and she fears for her safety."

Police said they observed damage to the walls of the residence in question, including a large hole in the bedroom that was covered up with pictures and a thin hole in drywall the victim said was from a hurled plate.

She told police Brown broke a cabinet while angry and kicked in a door when she locked him out because she was scared.

She told police he broke a mason jar "in a fit of rage" a few weeks ago, cutting himself so badly that he bled all over the kitchen floor and needed stitches, according to court records.

"(She) advised she and Brown first started having issues when Brown began bringing women around her and portrayed these women to be his 'friends,'" according to charging documents. "(She) later found out Brown had actually been having sexual relations with these women ... This is when the mental and physical abuse began. (She) advised Brown made some allegations towards her after going through her cell phone, and she saw this as a 'red flag' that she bypassed and saw this as the first sign her privacy was being invaded as if she were being monitored by Brown."

She told police she obtained proof Brown had cheated on her and confronted him, leading him to throw things and break things around the home, court records state.

She told investigators that last June he pushed her on her back while she was pregnant with her youngest child and held her wrists to the bed so she couldn't move, causing bruising, court documents state.

She further told police Brown would grab her head and shoulders and shake her violently "while yelling obscenities to her and telling her to shut up when she confronts him on cheating on her," according to charging documents.

"She advised she and Brown got into an argument on the day she had her youngest child on 10/17/19," records state. "(She) advised Brown again shook her violently, causing bruises on her wrists, and she believes that is what caused her to go into early labor. She advised after she woke up from having delivered her newborn baby she observed Brown to be sending photographs of her newborn baby to his ex-girlfriend. (She) stated they again argued, and a nurse had heard him say he was going to kill himself and Brown later got removed from the hospital that day, which made it impossible to for him to sign the birth certificate."

The victim told police she became scared and contacted a friend for help after he threw a coffee mug past her, nearly striking the 3-month old baby, records allege.

In the most recent incident earlier this month, she told police Brown became angry she was sleeping in the car on the way home from a trip to Michigan and pushed her into a kitchen cabinet and open drawer when they got home, bruising her thigh and scratching her back and chest. He then grabbed her wrist so tightly it left bruises, according to the affidavit.

Absent from work

Brown was scrutinized by the Lake County Council late last year after revelations that he was chronically absent from the office. 

Multiple county employees and lawmakers reported that Brown was a constant no-show at his government center office since a subordinate sued him for sexual harassment in 2017.

The county settled the lawsuit for $185,000 in October 2018.

The county council launched an investigation into Brown's absenteeism, and cut his salary to $1 in the 2020 fiscal budget. His salary was later restored after he vowed to start showing up to work.

In an interview with The Times in July, Brown conceded he had reduced his office hours, but insisted he remained available to his staff. Even so, recorder's office employees and county lawmakers confirmed that his deputy, Gina Pimentel, had taken over daily management duties and represents the office at County Council meetings.

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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