Five years' probation and six months of community labor. That's the sentence Chris Brown received earlier today from Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg, who also told Brown that he could be sent to state prison if he violated the terms of his sentence in the Rihanna assault case. For the next five years, he's to stay 100 yards away from his former girlfriend unless they're at a music industry event.
A probation report prepared for Tuesday's sentencing describes two previous violent incidents. It said the first happened about three months before the February beating while the couple was traveling in Europe; Rihanna slapped Brown during an argument, and he shoved her into a wall. In the second instance, Brown allegedly broke the front and passenger side windows on a Range Rover they were driving while visiting Barbados, Rihanna's home country. Neither attack was reported, the probation report states.
Brown will serve his sentence in his home state — Virginia — and his community labor will be overseen by the police chief in Richmond.
The judge said she wanted to ensure that Brown, 20, performs physical labor instead of community service, such as mentoring young people. He will also undergo a year of domestic violence counseling....
In a probation report released after the sentencing, Brown is quoted as saying he was "depressed" since the attack and that he "'does not want to carry on that cycle.'"
There's been an ongoing debate over how much responsibility Rihanna bears for the assault on February 8, 2009 that left her badly beaten on the face and with bite marks on her body. As the probation report indicates, Rihanna did engage in physical abuse of Chris Brown, and we'll never know who initially instigated the violence. However, the police photos of that assault show that the force Brown exerted against her far exceeded any mere attempts at self-defense.
It is never appropriate for anyone -- male or female -- to hit or strike out at a partner. Brown will receive counseling to avoid repeating the cycle, and hopefully Rihanna will also seek out professional help to deal with her own issues of violence and abuse.
For the whole Chris Brown/Rihanna story: