Brothers, a former teacher, pastor, sentenced to 20 years to life for child molestation

Matt Stensland
John Holland Brothers Jr.
Routt County Sheriff’s Office

— A former Christian school teacher and pastor convicted of repeatedly molesting a boy was sentenced Friday at the Routt County Justice Center to 20 years to life.

Near the end of the sentencing hearing, Judge Shelley Hill told John Brothers Jr., 45, there were only two ways he could ever be released from prison.

“You need to find it in yourself to decide what you are going to do with the rest of your life,” Hill said.

She said Brothers could seek to win an appeal and have his conviction overturned at a new trial, or he could admit what he had done, get treatment and convince a parole board he should be released.

“I know that you continue to deny that these events happened,” Hill said. “I understand that, and I understand that you will be seeking relief in the appellate courts.”

Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Karzen had asked Hill to sentence Brothers to 80 years to life.

“That will guarantee that he is rendered incapable of destroying any more children’s lives,” Karzen said.

Karzen described Brothers as “a serial child molester” who “methodically organized his life around the ability to sexually assault children.”

On June 6, a Routt County jury found Brothers guilty of eight felony counts of sex assault on a child. One charge was filed for each of the eight times in 2007 that Brothers molested the 12-year-old boy. Prosecutors argued Brothers groomed the boy over time to gain his trust leading up to the molestation at a residence in Steamboat Springs.

Brothers also is awaiting trial in Kentucky, where he has been charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse related to allegations that he sexually assaulted two youths at a church where he worked as a youth minister after leaving Colorado.

During Friday’s hearing, Hill heard from the boy’s mother, father and sister. The boy chose not to attend the sentencing hearing.

“He has chosen to hold on and heal, to not be hurt anymore and to not be here today,” the boy’s father said.

He described Brothers as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

“His crimes against us were not of opportunity,” the father said. “They were premeditated.”

The family requested Brothers spend the rest of his life in prison.

“There is evil in this world and darkness, and that is where John dwells,” the boy’s mother said.

The boy’s sister said Brothers took advantage of the love and trust the family had given Brothers.

“I will never understand someone who can be as awful and disgusting as you are,” she said.

Brothers chose to speak during the hearing. Reading from a written statement, Brothers’ words sounded like a church sermon.

“I stand before you not only as a convicted man but also a man under extreme conviction,” Brothers said. “Extreme conviction to show the attitude of my heart.”

Brothers said he was deeply saddened “by all the hurt that has been caused” and he prayed continually for those who have been affected.

“I am determined to live for the glory of God all the days of my life,” Brothers said.

Brothers finished his statement with what sounded like a prayer.

“May the Lord bless you and keep you,” he said.

The sentence handed down to Brothers was the sentence recommended by Brothers’ attorney, Routt County Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann.

District Attorney Brett Barkey issued a news release after the hearing.

“We are deeply disappointed in the sentence,” Barkey said in the release. “The facts of this case called for a sentence which sent a stronger statement of deterrence for those who prey on children and a stronger statement of support for victims. Although Mr. Brothers may never qualify for release from prison as a sex offender, the 20-year minimum creates the possibility he might be paroled at an age when he could again exploit his role as a pastor and teacher to rape children, as he did here and has done elsewhere.”

Barkey further stated that “although disappointing, the sentence today closes a difficult chapter for our victim and his family whose inspiring strength and courage were critical to putting this dangerous sexual predator in prison — at least for awhile.”

Judge sentences second man accused of molesting granddaughter

Judge Shelley Hill said it was a very painful morning in her courtroom Friday morning.

After the John Brothers Jr. hearing, she sentenced a second man to 10 years in prison for molesting a child.

As part of a plea deal, the 68-year-old man had pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and attempted sexual assault on a child.

The Steamboat Pilot and Today is withholding the name of the man in order to protect the identity of the victim.

The man was accused of molesting his granddaughter.

“We had a blessed and loving family, and due to the dark places of my depression and wrong decisions, I ruined that,” the man said during the hearing. “My family has always been and always will be the most important thing in my life. I’m so sorry.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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