A Teen Facing Life: Thoughts on Cyntoia Brown and Her Story

Molly Secours

By Molly Secours

Imagine a young girl that has been abandoned early on by her biological mother and grandmother — who both share a history of emotional instability (including drug and alcohol abuse) and several generations of suicidal behavior. In spite of being adopted and nurtured by a loving family, by her teen years she begins to display emotional instability and erratic behavior and is arrested several times for offenses that land her in a juvenile facility.

By the age of 16 she is living on the street, taking drugs and running with an abuser who forces her to have sex with other men — sometimes for money.  And then one day, after being ordered to bring in some cash, she goes home with a strange man she meets at a fast food restaurant parking lot and who is found dead in his house, the next day.

According to the Juvenile Justice Foundation there are at least 2250 juveniles in the U.S. sentenced to life without parole for offenses committed when they were under 18 years of age. Cyntoia Brown of Nashville is but one young person who will spend the rest of her life in prison.

Several months ago, I was surprised to receive a letter in the mail the old fashioned way: with a postage stamp, delivered to my front door. It took me a few moments to realize it was from a young person I hadn’t seen since 2004 and have thought a great deal about over the last several years: Cyntoia Brown

At 16, Brown took the life of a 43 year-old Real Estate Agent she met at a fast food parking lot in Murfreesboro (south of Nashville) and who brought her to his house. Whether this was a sexual transaction gone awry between a 16-year-old girl desperate for money and scared of being killed or, as friends and family of the victim have claimed, the slaying of a good Samaritan, we will never know.

What we know is Johnny Allen was found in his bed, naked and shot in the back of the head and 16 year old Brown was tried as an adult, convicted and facing life in prison.

I first met Brown when she was 15 at Woodland Hills Juvenile Detention Center where I was teaching a life-skills class using video. The intention of the program was to prepare them with youth employment interview skills but my personal goal was limited to one thing per session: reflecting back one positive strength about themselves they could not see. Anything beyond was considered a bonus.

Brown was fiery, sarcastic, smart and desperate for attention. The first time we scripted scenes that would be videotaped, she made a point of informing the group that some day she would star in a movie–about her. Given her charismatic personality, there was little doubt this was true.

Getting to know her over a several month period was fascinating in that every meeting was like the first. One day she was lively, engaging and funny, the next sullen, distracted and uncommunicative — hardly a remarkable description of adolescent behavior.

What was striking and distinctive about Brown was her keen intelligence and high level of compassion and how often it all seemed buried under chaos and confusion. That Brown was damaged, was clear but how and why, I never knew.

A year later, Brown’s face appeared on television–only it wasn’t a starring role in a film but one devastating chapter of her life. From that first news report the worst moment of her life would now define her. A 16-year old girl became known as a ruthless killer and in 2006 she was tried as an adult and received a life sentence. Her name and the word murderer have become synonymous.

This month, on Tuesday, March 1 at 9 p.m. CST, a film called Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story by critically acclaimed filmmaker, Dan Birman will be featured on NPT and PBS stations nationwide as part of the Independent Lens series. The film will also be screened in advance as part of the ITVS Community Cinema Nashville series, on Saturday, February 26 at 3:00 (reception at 2:30) at the downtown branch of the Nashville Public Library. The screening is free and open to the public.

The film is not about retrying the case or implying innocence or guilt. It is about Brown and the complex and convoluted physical and emotional circumstances that resulted in mental illness and one man’s untimely death. And perhaps it raises an eyebrow about trying the most vulnerable of youths in an adult system.

Along with numerous scientific studies, the National Institutes of Health suggests that the region of the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age 25 and that until the brain is fully developed, youth are not capable of making decisions rationally. Add on a history of mental illness and it is even more troubling.

The revealing interviews with Brown’s adoptive mother and a forensic psychiatrist unearth a side of Brown that was never portrayed in the media. The interviews with Brown’s biological mother and grandmother reveal their tragic struggles with mental illness, drug addiction and suicidal tendencies shed light on Brown’s propensity for self destructive behaviors.

It is difficult to listen to these woman expose their most personal and vulnerable struggles without wondering how Brown’s life might have taken a different turn with more stable beginnings. And for some it demands the question: Why do we continue to endorse, tolerate and even vote for those involved in criminal justice who deem a young life–especially one mentally unstable–so disposable?

What is most striking in the film is the recent footage of Brown living at the Tennessee Prison For Women. She has grown into what some might call ‘a lady’ who is composed and somehow, seems at peace.

Before an early screening, Birman got permission to show Brown the film on a laptop computer. As Brown watched footage of herself as a 16 year old using off color language in a manic moment, Birman said she said, “I was such a potty mouth.”

Six years later, as I read the neatly typed words on the page that inquire after my health and offer prayers for my cancer recovery, I am struck not only by the compassion and concern but the excellent composition and use of language. She has been taking extension courses through David Lipscomb University in Nashville and it is evident she is the intelligent teenager I remember.

As I fold the letter I am moved by the dreams of a troubled young girl who predicted starring in her own film — even though it is not the movie she had in mind.

Molly Secours is a writer/filmmaker/speaker who has used her artistic talents to effect social change and public policy regarding inequities in health care, education, criminal justice etc. In addition to being a Huffington Post writer, Secours’ writings have appeared in mainstream and internet magazines and newspapers and she has appeared on local and national television and radio talk shows including CNN’s Paul Zahn Now and is a weekly co-host of “Freestyle” with veteran Nashville journalist Ron Wynn. As a Cancer survivor, Secours writes about many issues from a healing perspective and draws the parallels between battling a deadly disease and confronting and disrupting systemic and institutional privilege–a symptom of an imbalanced and unhealthy society.

Through her film company “One Woman Show Productions” and her documentary films, Secours has earned national recognition in the world of social justice. Molly has produced videos for Death Penalty Institute and her health care documentary “Faces Of TennCare: Putting A Human Face On Tennessee’s Health Care Failure” is currently being aired on The Documentary Channel. Casting a national spotlight on Tennessee’s health care crisis, the film has been praised by members of the United States Congress including representatives John Conyers, Jesse Jackson Jr. and from Senator Edward Kennedy.-

A version of this essay originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

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Thank you for this article. As a youth care worker and parent counsellor in my own home for many years I came to understand and see all to well how kids not only fall between the cracks, and how the system fails our so called most valuable resource, our children. I feel the powers that be namely, the institutions (ie education, political, religious, mental health etc.) within North America are still living back in the dark ages, often providing lip service instead of real help and support for families and children.

Living in Canada, life sentence is no more than, 25 years, without capitol punishment, but we incarcerate a very high percentage of children, and presently have a Prime Minister who seems intend on buliding more jails and going backwards instead of forward. It is very discouraging.

However it is heartening and hopeful to see people like yourself speaking out against the incarceration of children how have endured more difficulty and suffering in their young lives them most adutls could ever dream of having in a life time. Thank you. Catherine Meyers

I can imagine how her family must feel because my heart goes out to them, My son Dennis has been locked up since he was 15 years old because Code of Silence got him life in prison. It is a difficult situation for her to be in but God is working with her using her to tell her story that others may see the good that is in her. No matter what keep hope alive, this film will do that for her and so many other young adolescents locked up. Please continue to fight on, God answers prayers.

Thanks Catherine. Dan Birman did an amazing job with this film and hopefully people will begin to have another level of conversation around this issue. It is so easy to demonize these children when you don’t meet them, see them or hear their story. Dan did a great job of bringing to light the story of thousands of children by telling Cyntoia’s.

Yes, these youth are troubled. Yes, they must experience consequences but mostly they need help. Institutionalizing a child for life is hardly a solution and for most European countries and nations around the world, what is happening to our youth is viewed as absurd.

Delighted to see that those silly factors of guilt or innocence are not involved. A ‘reasonable creature in being’ was shot in the back of the head and nothing will bring him back. What would a ‘fair’ punishment be, here? And, oh yes, what a European country or culture thinks or might think has absolutely no bearing.

I quite agree with you . I presume you all watched the video, she comes across an awful lot older than her years .I feel she knew what she was doing and thats why they sentenced her 51 yrs. She is not naieve or innocent.

She knew what she was doing? Really? She was a victim, multiple times. How many times do you think a child should be raped?

No, Kirk the film doesn’t deal with guilt or innocence. Cyntoia was found guilty of murder. And, she was a child when she was found guilty and tried as an adult. As you will see in the film, there is no position taken.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with Cyntoia.

The film does an excellent job of presenting the facts of the case without any spin.

A reasonable feeling person can only reach the conclusion that justice was not served.

I hate to play the race/class card but since the justice system (and various commentators) doesn’t play the “logic card,” I have to point out the obvious. Studies have shown that minority youth are dealt with more harshly because the powers that be do not relate to them as they would a white or upper class youth. The expectations are different and it clearly impacts sentencing.

Molly, Thanks for sharing the link. I couldn’t stop reading…it’s just such an eloquent presentation of the truth. When I got to the end I wanted to read more so I’m glad I was able to find more of your articles elsewhere. I particularly love that your documentaries are offering a different perspective to authorities in position to judge children to whom they otherwise have limited positive exposure. God bless you and your work!

I was in the right city on the right night and caught a screening of “Me Facing Life” in Oakland. I went through a range of emotions, including sadness and anger. Certainly, I get the tragedy of the murdered victim. Yet I can’t feel for him without acknowledging the tragedies of Cyntoia’s life which led to her unfortunate mistake (one made as a 16 year old child). There are other stories like Cyntoia’s and they deserve better than we are giving them. Thank you again for putting your experiences out there for others who don’t have the opportunity to interact with these youth.

After the screening I wanted to know more which led me to your blog and other writings. Cyntoia’s story and your words have inspired me to become involved with the efforts and conversations toward Replacing our current Juvenile (in)Justice system.

I appreciate you!

I’m so glad to hear that Juliana and I will be sure to pass this on to Dan Birman the filmmaker who did such an amazing job on this film and of course I will pass on to Cyntoia. She will be happy to know that her life has inspired someone. She’s quite the activist.

Thank You.

I think another thing we are forgetting is that she was a child when an ADULT male took her to his home to have sex with her, a CHILD. Where’s the question of pedophilia in this whole thing? I guess except for that one minor flaw in his character he was an upstanding citizen.

I agree, what happen to child molestation. If he was this good samartain that his friends say he was, I can not get out of my mind that he picked up a child from a local resturant to take to his house without in female supervison. Why was he found naked? I also read that another woman came forth that he raped her.

The youth you speak of, who are considered “disposable”, have victims that are not always as aged as this one. I am not sure your take on her level of responsibility is accurate or not. I vascilate between the two. I recently read of a youth who victimized and killed a neighbor child. Would you think this youth should be tried as an adult? Just curious if this dead man’s age and gender had any bearing on this story? I understand your feeling sorry for this girl who’s mother is mostly responsible for event, but what about society and the protection thereof? Does this vicious circle not make your head spin? I do not view it as black and white as you seem to and I struggle with this subject often.

Lisa I think perhaps you missed an important portion of the documentary. The part where Cyntoia was abandoned, neglected, confused, abused, raped, used, misled and distorted from the beginning of time therefore impairing an already underdeveloped brain and her ability to make a rational decision. Despite her innocence or guilt of the actual crime the documentary pointed out that not every thing is black and white. Molly points this out in her reply. It is heartbreaking to say the least to see the injustice and harsh punishment for the child. I realize that this crime and sentencing took place many years ago but it is alarming and disheartening and eye-opening about the world that exists. The men and women who are ignoring or blatantly refusing to see that patterns are formed and need to be broken!

For christ sake, this girl was beaten, raped, held at gunpoint, and a victim of sex trafficking and when she finally had the guys to kill her aggressor she did she should be commended for getting a sexual predator off the street instead of being thrown in prison for life this girl is not eligible for parole until she is 69 years old. Our goal is to get criminals off the street not throwing victims into prison for defending themselves through traumatic situations YOU PEOPLE ARE INSANE

This isn’t’ about feeling sorry for anyone Lisa and I don’t believe this is a black or white situation in the least. Having worked with hundreds of youth over the years I’ve witnessed the complexity of these situations and from my experience I have observed that distance allows most people to take a ‘black white’ position. Hopefully you will watch the film and ask some different questions.

Ok, lemme see if I got this right. Her victim was found naked, face down on his bed, with a fatal gunshot wound to the back of the head. And I’m supposed to feel sympathy for her why? Seems to me she had her victim at her mercy, which was a shame because mercy is not what she showed him. Her problems do not excuse what she did, nor do they warrant any sympathy from me in light of what she allowed those problems to turn her into.

Just attempt this exercise in empathy: you’re a very young and physically weak individual – you’re immediate and overall reality is so harmful to your very existence that you have become completely detached. The experience of having your dignity, the control over your own body, forcefully and painfully ripped away from you (the victim’s experience of rape) is so routine that you have come to accept it as just the way life is, just the way men are, just normal.
Under threat of your life, you’ve been coerced into selling your flesh (now, since your a man – remember yourself as a little boy and imagine being routinely raped by the majority of men in your life – or is it not the same?).In an already terrifying situation, a man in his 40s has complete power over you – you’re a child, small, no physical match, in an adult situation where your only value is as a commodity…
What exactly constitutes self-defence in your book? Giving mercy to this man would do what to her? Probably kill her – but no, you’ve already given the life of the man who is buying this child’s body more value. Wow you backwards, uncivilized little man.

you think he had sympathy for her when he was raping her? AND remember he had the gun…..so she dies first or he dies first…which option would you choose if you were in her shoes? would you lay there all happy that your getting raped and threatend with a gun?

I think you will find the film isn’t about guilt or innocence. As stated several times, Cyntoia committed the crime and deserved punishment. No excuses. The film is about trying youth as adults and the mitigating circumstances surrounding the case. The great thing about the film is the the director Dan Birman is an excellent journalist and takes no position.

The issue is one of early detection, parental replacement ; if neccesary.
This is not limited to any race or class, rather it is a matter of proper care during the formative years.
Children with no voice are everywhere, as a “preppy” WASP ; anyone would see the nice home and school and assume we were treated well.
Read the story of Joan Crawford and you will see empowerment and caring are the true factors that make or break a spirit.
God Bless the children , grant they be heard and loved.
Cynthia is an extreem example ; yet most fall in the middle, between the cracks in plain sight.
Children are not ” little adults” they are learning.
Teach love to them and their parents .
Self worth will carry most through very well. Good parenting is a subject which should be taught in schools ; not feeding alone but emotional respect.
What of her father ? Two creat a life two are responsible for nourishment .


“Her problems to not excuse what she did…”

(The film doesn’t purport to excuse the reason she was tried and found guilty.)

“…in light of what she allowed those problems to turn her into.”

(Hmmm. Does a 16 year-old get to choose whether or not to “allow” mental instability to affect her? Does anyone? )

And kudos to the post above for pointing out the whole pedophilia issue. I guess since the justice system threw out the fact of her being a juvenile when she was tried as an adult, we should just overlook the fact that the MALE ADULT took her to home to begin with. I’m sure it was just to share a pizza.

Thank you for this article. As a child, I was raised in very similar circumstances as Cyntoia and know that children do not “all of the sudden” start showing behavioral problems. With the onset of these problems, the adoptive parents failed in not taking the best steps to nurture a very hurt and confused young girl. It is so easy for people to look down on adults in the criminal justice system, but take a closer look and there is a horrific pattern that emerges with a very large percentage starting in their juvenile years. These issues need to be addressed, teated and cared for the very first time a child is admitted. It is shameful to have be part of a society that tears down more and more schools replacing them with a new type of institution, one not of higher learning, but one robbing them from learning. These kinds of things need to be brought into the media.

Lots of people have shared your experience when young, but im afraid
no exscuse for cold blooded murder. Shes alot older than her years, she was more like her 16yrs when she was an 8 yr old! No im sorry she gets what she deserves i know lots of people that have been through worse, shes lucky she didnt get the death penalty! shes still got her life the guy she shot has lost his so dont feel sympathy she was old enough to know what she was doing and she did!

I wonder how you would reacted if you were a 16 yr old girl in a 43 yr old man’s house with guns laying around and you’ve been previously raped. I’m very surprised that women are also on the man’s side. Is it because you are white?

so does that make it ok for that dirtbag to take an underage girl home and rape her?

How would you feel if a man raped your kids?
Wouldnt you want him to die?
Remember your kid will be affected for life cuz of rape so its like being almost dead.

Im happy that loser died… Theres people claiming that he was such a nice man….really? he took an uderage strange girl home and then got naked and raped her and plus he also had a gun..what was he going to do with the gun?

Thanks Jackie. As you will see Cyntoia’s adoptive mom was committed, loving and nurturing. Much more will be revealed in the film. Also, there is an indepth article written by Brantley Hargrove this week that will help paint a much clearer picture. Between the film and Hargroves excellent investigative reporting you will see what Cyntoia’s adoptive mother, Ellenette was facing.

I highly recommend taking a look. http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/for-a-teens-impulsive-unthinkable-act-cyntoia-brown-got-an-adults-life-sentence-was-justice-served/Content?oid=2268809

It really bothered me that the jury was not allowed to know Allen’s background. He was completely nude, the girl was in his bed, and other prostitutes said he was regularly seen on Dickerson Road “trolling.” He also was accused of rape. The fact that he was white, a youth group “leader” at a local church and a real estate agent seemed to play into the typical stereotypes and racism prevalent in this area. This kid did not get a fair shake. For all the posturing this city does, as a cultural and creative mecca, it is still VERY conservative, and VERY “old” south, in my opinion. I hope she gets another chance, but, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.


I have to take exception to the comment about The Scene article painting a “clearer” picture with “excellent investigative reporting”. Where, exactly, did the victim get the same amount of attention? No one talked to his family or friends about problems he’s had in his life, or engaging aspects of his personality. Instead, there’s a woman’s accusation of rape (although it was never proven, and heck, she never even reported it). Cyntoia was a street hooker who lied about her age. Even if the victim picked her up for a ‘trick’ (which was alluded to but never proven), apparently the viewers/ readers feel she was justified in shooting him as he slept. And then robbed him, and went back to steal his vehicle. While 51-plus years may not be the best answer for her length of incarceration, I am glad she’s locked up. Unless any of the folks who think she didn’t get a ‘fair shake’ want to have her come stay with them?

he was NOT sleeping when he was shot,that was proven, it was also proven that he paid for her,and where do you get the bit about her lying about her age?Only one person could have said whether or not her age was ever mentioned, and we cant ask him as he is dead, but any fool could have told she was a young teen simply by looking at her, some teens look older than their age but she certainly didnt. he was a child molester . she shot him in self defence . that is manslaughter, not murder.

The film wasn’t about whether or not Cyntoia committed the crime. It was about whether or not the key should be thrown away on a 16 year old who commits a crime. Cyntoia was a young girl who was in an abusive situation with a man nearly 10 years her senior and the man who took her home was almost 30 years older. There is no justification for the crime. The question is there justification for trying a child as an adult.

I don’t think that everybody is getting that aspect. Did she do the crime? Yes! Should she be punished and serve some time? Yes! Is the punishment excessive due to the fact that she was tried as an adult?? ABSOLUTELY YES!

Like most things in my life, I saw this documentary by chance. The fact that I actually took time to randomly see what was on television is unusual and added to the surreality of the encounter. First, the documentary was extremely well made. That something of this quality came from Nashville is noteworthy indeed, not unusual, but noteworthy. But what really got my attention and drew me in was that listening to Cyntoia was like listening to my own child. The precociousness and charming deliverance of her misguided truths and fuzzy logic reminded me of dealing with my own daughter when she was that age. The hardest times of parenting can be trying to figure out when to give in to someone who is young yet demanding they know enough to make their own decisions.

I feel for Cyntoia because I know I made some pretty stupid decisions when I was young and the consequences could have been life changing. But the crime she committed was heinous and has to be punished. I feel for the victim also. But if anyone told me to go down to the seedy side of town, pick up someone of unscrupulous character, bring them back to the house, and then go to sleep, I would tell them that was crazy! Why are the lives of two people so emotionally empty that they would seek out such a dangerous liaison to fulfill a need which is usually shrouded in love and intimacy? This is a major social problem that should be addressed. Why are people so lonely? Why Does Nashville permit teenage prostitution. The man obviously knew where to go. That means othesr do to. This is in our own back door. Teenagers turning tricks in Nashville!

Also, why did the victims friends not tell him he needed help? Why would they think his behavior is acceptable? What is going on?

I do not agree that Cyntoia’s life is thrown away. Her life will be different and not usual, but it will not be thrown away. Considering the path she was on, spending a lifetime in jail may not be possibly the worst that could happen to her. She doesn’t have to worry about pimps, or rent or taxes or even getting enough to eat. These are worries many have on a daily basis. She has constraints but she has freedoms from other worries as well. It will still be up to Cyntoia to decide if her life will be wasted or not.

Cyntoia’s problem is a social problem. We have incarcerated a potentially sweet, precocious, intelligent teenager for the rest of her life. To keep her in jail for 50 years is going to cost the community of Nashville possibly over 2 MILLION DOLLARS! Is that money well spent? We are not throwing away Cyntoia’s life. We are throwing away $2,000,000 to clean up a nasty little mess that Nashville society doesn’t want to deal with.

Obviously the victim knew he was taking a risk. It may be what excited him. Why did he need such a diversion? What was society not giving him that he had to find entertainment or intimacy in that way? Why did Cyntoia have to turn to prostitution?

Could we have spent that $2,000,000 in a way that would have helped Cyntoia not become a prostitute? Could we have spent $2,000,000 dollars in a way to help the victim not feel the need to risk so much for sex? What are our priorities as a society? Do we keep paying for bigger prisons so we can look the other way? Or do we address the fact that we have serious issues that won’t go away unless we as a whole are willing to do something about it? This story took place in Nashville. Now, the whole world knows they can come here to find child prostitutes. Is that what we as a city want to be known for? Are we still willing to look the other way?

Very well said. Society needs to look at the bigger picture, and work to prevent these things happing. Prevention is better than cure!

I take exception to two of your opening statements. First of all I think it is unfair to say Cyntoia’s biological mother and grandmother abandoned her. Neither you nor I were there so we cannot say for sure what transpired between the biological mother and the adoptive parents. The mother states that the adoption was against her will. Cyntoia says that she was told her biological mother wanted nothing to do with her when all along she had attempted to keep in communication with her. That right there proves that not everything may have been on the up and up with the adoption situation.

Also, according to Cyntoia she was physically abused by her adoptive father. Taken into consideration with the opinions of both of the doctors that there was a history of sexual abuse indicates not everything in that occurred in that house could have been considered nurturing.

Cyntoia Brown killed a man but was she not also a victim? Where is the justice for this child? From the very beginning the odds were stacked against her. She was a victim of physical and sexual abuse in the very home of the people who were supposed to love and protect her.

I viewed this show actually by accident and was very moved by the content. At the end I found the end result typical of the present United States and a very failed criminal justice system.

It is not for me to judge this young accused and convicted young women. Cyntoia and her victim are a product of our society where gun violence is so common.

However, I really do not believe that spending 51 years in prison actually accomplishes any thing except for incarceration. It would seem that Cyntoia’s early childhood and abuse surely contributed to this very unfortunate end.

Hopefully sometime down the road an attorney or Child Abuse Group will look into this and similar cases and do more to prevent such horrendous outcomes.

To the families of all involved I truly offer my condolences and sympathy. In the end a mans murder and a child’s life were forever ruined. The costs of all this is unmeasurable.

I know Johnny personally. Johnny was the type that would give you the shirt off of his back if he knew you needed it, would give you his last dime if you wanted it. My understanding is that Johnny thought Cyntoia was a runaway and told her she needed to call home and let her family know she was ok. He was even going to take her to meet up with her family but she wanted to wait until the next morning. He showed her around his house, where he kept things which included his guns that were kept in a case. If Cyntoia would have told Johnny her situation about needing money, he probably would have helped her. I don’t know whether Johnny slept naked or not but it was proven that he WAS sleeping when he was killed. I don’t know Johnny to run around with hookers or pick up teenage kids. Johnny was a descent, wealthy, good looking guy, he didn’t have to resort to those tactics to have sex. What is known is that his kid doesn’t have a father, Johnny is dead and no matter how many stories this girl tells, she has no excuse for taking another life, stealing his vehicle or using his money to get a hotel room. She deserves everything she gets.

She should get death . I had the way worse up bringing then her by far and i didnt go out and killl anyone or do drugs, Excuse Excuse Excuse to save the one that dont need to be saved. Funny how the liberals wanted this in the 80s but now they change their minds. what a joke liberals are. My dad was a child sexual predator and my mother was a Whore and drug dealer. Its about making the right choice

I’m glad somebody decided to ask Cyntoia about her own situation and life. She is not what a lot of the media and blog spots says she is. This girl was my friend. She has always been reluctant to talk about her past so I admire her for her finally speaking out regarding her life despite the circumstances. She should be giving another chance,(my opinion). Reading all of the bolg sites and interview and comment regarding Cyntoia has inspired me to reach out to her . I personally want to thank everyone who got to know Cyntoia before they judged her. My deepest sympathy go out to the families of the victim as well as Cyntoias family for the shameless and untimely crime. However ,this crime should not be justified by taking the life of Cyntoia and by imposing this life sentence upon her, that’s exactly what is being done . Cyntoia , I just wnat you to know that I’m sorry that this was the ultimate way of getting your story heard. Never let anybody who require the same substances to live as yourself ever label or judge you. That’s the job of our God. Take your punishment like the big girl that I know you are. Turn what society believes to be negatives, and make them you positives. I hope to see you soon, Cyntoia. Your friend. E

I am glad she has a sincere friend like you, E. she certainly needs one(or many)I was saddened and angered by the documentary, and could not understand why a, she was tried as an adult, and b, why the charge was not manslaughter, instead of murder.

she is not guilty. because it was selfdefense , and she is a very strong girl and i love her. i think its unfair for her to be punished like this , this is not human. besides , the man deserved what he got , having sex with a 16 year old? he is obviously the crazy one. if he was alive , he would have gone to prison, he should be thankful she killed him. an easy way out . i am just so mad , so mad that things like this happen. its not her fault at all. sexually abused by several people, no family no one to rely on. im just so mad

I also watched a documentary on this young lady. She is devious and very manipulative. She shot the man in cold blood. No he shouldn’t have picked her up in the first place but that does not justify her actions. She shot him from behind, then didn’t get up and call the police, but went on to rob etc. She chose to do the crime. Like the writer/filmaker said shes an intellegent person so knew exactly what she was doing. All this diary keeping and writing stuff about sex- she knew the court would see all of that and i’m glad they didn’t fall for it.
The real victim is the dead man.
Be in a movie-well shes the star now huh.

It makes me sick that in a country whose government likes to promote their country as a super power & successful & that they’re the ideal to every other country in the world, the government also treats their own vulnerable people so badly! And the jury fell for it, ignoring the facts presented to them about Cyntoia’s vulnerable background & character & the simple fact that she was a child when she did this! By this very fact of her age when she pulled the trigger, she should have received no more than a manslaughter charge on the grounds of diminished responisiblity. The fact that these men slept with her under-age, means that they committed statutory rape over & over against her! And somehow, having been treated so badly & being scared of this man, this 15/16yr old child is guilty of Murder 1, a charge this is legally based on a malicious intent to harm & end a life! That’s not the behaviour of a mentally vulnerable 5/16yr old child, who had been regularly raped & was terrified! In a situation where you’re terrified, it’s impossible to think straight, that’s not Murder 1, that’s self-defence! If Cyntoia had been a 31yr old business woman, walking along the street, grabbed & threatened with raped & stabbed the guy, who later died, it would have been recognised as self-defence. However, it seems that these young people have been written off before they even get to court & sentenced beyond the level of the crime, locked up & left to rot in prison. And this in the country whose government likes to make the rest of the world think they have it all sorted & the rest of the world should follow their lead! Shame on you American government for betraying the most vulnerable in your society! American government, you make me sick to my stomach! I feel sorry for every single American citizen who is at the mercy of such a ruthless government!

A middle aged pervert is dead and a young vunerable teenager will spend the rest of her life behind bars for shooting him. Only in America

Hey Molly,
i am 14years old and live in london,i would really like to write to Cyntoia,and have all the materials to do so,do you think this will be a good idea ?

no randy you didnt, but then were you fearfull for your own life at the hands of a child molester? and if you were, and there happened to be weapons there (his by the way) would you not protect yourself,most of us would, its human nature

If any one out there has a prison number and an address I would dearly love to right to Cynthia , a child where a system has failed her also school, social services and. Indeed her mum. God bless her and seeding my thoughts . I live in the uk and when I saw this documentary I was astonish to see the system in the USA .

Im from the UK and I just watched ‘The 16-Year-Old Killer: Cyntoia’s Story’ on BBC i player and it actually made me cry im 17 and im applying to join the police and i think the jury where fucked in the head sorry for the language but as soon as i heard them say guilty it broke my heart she was innocent i don’t see how they could do that.

And that ginger guy that was like she’ murdered him and he was defenseless and so on he is by far the biggest prick on the planet he just went for her like she wasn’t a person who deserved a second chance because she made a mistake no he just goes in for her and basically throws her life away it was like he enjoyed the fact he was gona get her life like it didn’t even bother him ugh i hate him i know i wana be a cop but if i saw him on the street it be getting life.

sorry is there an address or any way i could send her a letter just to like talk to her its like i just have so much respect and admiration for her i don’t know why but watching that and seeing what she went through really touched me i just wanted to tell her.

yours faithfully

to who ever wrote i know johnny just shut up and to randy who said she should get death, you should get death for talking crap because no one on here cares about your opinon if you have’nt noticed the majority of the people here like and respect cyntoia so you two can do the world a favour and f*ck off and share your opinion with a community that cares thank you.

i watched this documentary today on BBC and it really was amazing. personally i don’t think she should have got tried as an adult and her previous life experiences should have been taken into consideration. i am currently in university and hope to go into youth work i would love to work with young people like cyntoia and see things from their perspective. i cannot come to terms as to how long life sentence is in America because in England it is 25 years. i do believe cyntoia needed guidance but it would have been difficult for her to change due to the society she lived in, personally the way she has developed in prison going to classes etc i think perhaps this wouldn’t have been the case if she was found not guilty. anyway i hope the best for cyntoia and you article also was very interesting, keep it up 🙂

Everyone seems to talk about this man as if he is innocent in the news…they seem to be forgetting that he was paying for sex from a 16 year old. Made her go to his house…got his little collection of guns out (for what reason, if not to be threatening?!) And took the gun into the bedroom. Absolute travesty that she is in prison for so long. Not that she is in prison…but that she is in prison for so long. Psychology needs to be taken more seriously!

Regardless of whether she did (or did not) kill the man in question the fact that she was tried as an adult rather than a minor is an absolute disgrace, in fact that any child (regardless of the crime) is tried as an adult shows the US legal system in a very bad light.

I’ve no view on whether she did or did not kill Mr Allen but the facts are that a teenage girl ended up at the house of a middle aged man with guns – that this managed to happen is something that the authorities should be looking into.

Either way Miss Brown seems to come across well in the documentary and she genuinely seems to have grown up whilst in prison – IMO a child should never be tried as an adult and for that reason I hope the correct sentence (and most likely one that will result in Miss Brown being released within the next few years) is implemented via the higher courts of the land.

Martin (in the UK).

The injustice to Cyntoia is heartbreaking and the court verdict left me feeling empty and angry.

It is not appropriate to use the language ‘child prostitute’. Cyntoia was extremely vulnerable as a result of the systematic abuse she suffered. The array of experiences she was subject to from the womb and throughout her childhood, alongside the history of mental ill health and addiction within her family, clearly affected her emotional well being and development.

She should be seen as a victim of abuse and be given specialist support to help her re-build her life. Cyntoia is clearly an intelligent and articulate girl which a lot of potential to succeed in life. I really pray justice will be brought for her and other vulnerable young people in a similar situation.

As other people have written above, it would be good to know if there is a way I could write to Cyntoia. If you know whether this is possible, please post a message to explain how. Thanks

I watch the documentary,Me facing Life, three times, back to back, I read her appeal and I am still struck by the fact that a 43 year old man took this child to his home to have sex with her. Does that mean that he should die for that? No, but in what forum is that acceptable? She took a life and I am not convinced that it was not in self defense. As we have all learned,her and I repeat, her frame of mind is what should have been at issue. Isn’t that what was repeatedly said in the Zimmerman trial? I do believe that it was not premeditated and I also believe that if there must be retribution for her actions, she surely has paid, but why is there no outrage that a 43 year old man took this child home to have sex with her? I’m appalled that the State of Tennessee decided that this child was expendable, and because of her lifestyle whether she chose it or not, she was a child!!!!!!!!!!!!!

none will ever know the full story only the 16 year old girl
so lets ask ourselves a 43 year old man takes home a 16 year girl
the man is shot and killed
what value do we put on this mans life
a juvenile detention centre
a rehabilitation centre
a 20 year prison sentence
or life in prison
forgetting all the facts /and fiction
a life has been lost
what value do you put on a life is my question
a man shoots and kills a 16 year old
what value do we put on a 16 year olds life
a man kills a 18 month old baby
what value do we put on a 18 month baby
a young lady kills her mum
what value do we put on a mum
a drug dealer kills another drug dealer
what value do we put on a drug dealer
a drug dealer kills a 10 year old
what value do we put on a 10 year old
a terrorist kills a 7 year old
what value do we put on a 7 year old
i could go on and on for all the murders that are committed yearly in each country
my question is without any facts or fiction what sentence would you give each case
a loss of life is a loss of life
why are we taught that there’s certain sentences for certain people

hey Ms Molly iam derrian Isaac from Baltimore Maryland just searching the net when when I came around this video that’s so over whelming I just have to reach out to this young lady & tell her she have a campaign that’ has her side id do anything to help thanks you hope to hear from you soon

Hi Natasha, It’s been just over 10 days since you wannd to know if you can write to her, and today I’m looking for the answer to that very same question. So, if you have gotten the answer please share with me. Thanks.

It seems to me, that someone who is engaged in prostitution (and they often meet and deal with the worst of the worst in our society), will never get a fair trial. Particularly a men run the justice system and see themselves as innocent victims when they buy prostitution services. Sex-trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry, and its patrons are men. They see themselves as potential victims, but do not see the abused girl-children as victims. This is the reason it took so long to get laws on the books for domestic violence, and child molestation. Men did not want to think they would have to go to jail if they hit there wives, or had an indiscretion with a child. (Judges and lawyers included)

Does anyone cry for Johnny Allen or his family who no longer has him? Did his crime deserve the death sentenace her received? I feel for this young woman truly I do. But we only have her side and her background. She was a repeated runaway, a troubled child from the start. Maybe if counseling was offered when her troubles began she would not have lived such a traumatic lifestyle and maybe Mr. Allen would still be here.

ok veiwers, I just researched the TN newspaper archives (The Tennessean) and found an article of the killing. And It states as I copy/paste the article:

Teen guilty of killing businessman

The Tennessean – Nashville, Tenn.
Author: Bottorff, Christian
Date: Aug 26, 2006
Start Page: B.1
Section: Local
Text Word Count: 846

Abstract (Document Summary)
Robbery was motive in 2004 slaying, prosecutors say By CHRISTIAN BOTTORFF Staff Writer A Nashville jury Friday night convicted Cyntoia Brown of first-degree murder and robbery, siding with prosecutors who said the teen carefully planned the killing of a Nashville real estate agent in August 2004 for the “thrill” of it and to steal from him. Brown will be sentenced at an upcoming hearing after her conviction on counts of first-degree murder, felony murder and especially aggravated robbery.

This will help us a little on the sentence Ms Brown received. Maybe she was told by her pimp to rob this man. If he was comfortable enough to take her to his home, maybe it wasn’t their first time meeting or dating. This man had his flaws and yes committed a crime of soliciting a prosititute, but being a real estate agent also tells me he was educated and wasn’t some low life woman beater child molesting creap. Did he know her truthful age? See this is why I say we need to hear of his background too to make sound statements. There’s much more too this then we know. BUT I still DO NOT feel he deserved to have been killed and the cause of his death should be punished.

omg this is so touching to see a young girl like this us as women should be respected and not just for our body but for our personality it doesn’t matter how we look we just need our respect as women to

It’s heartening to see many people seeing the hell this girl has gone through and how that has impacted on her decision making. It is impossible to empathise with her without going through what she has.

To be systematically abused and be expected to have a normal world view is impossible.

The main problem we have on this thread is a lot of “Whataboutism” as a way to make her seem evil. Forget what other kids have been like or whether one 12 year old could be calculating and evil. It’s not about other people as no one is the same. Child abuser forces child to have sex with another child abuser. Child finally flips. Hardly a surprise.

There is only one victim in this story. Cyntoia.

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