Despite their pleas for mercy in the form of probation, a married couple will spend Friday night separated in Cochise County jail cells after being sentenced to three years in prison for multiple counts of felony child abuse.
Brian and Monica Campbell must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before being eligible for release, according to Judge Timothy Dickerson. The couple pleaded guilty in December to committing four acts of abuse between 2016 and 2018 against four children adopted by the couple several years ago.
The prosecutions of the Campbells garnered a high level of community attention due to the parents’ jobs at the time a criminal investigation began in July 2018 – she worked as a 911 dispatcher for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) while he was a case manager for the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DPS).
As part of a plea deal, the Campbells could have been placed on probation, sentenced to jail for no more than one year, or sent to prison for no more than three years.
In sentencing each parent to the maximum three years in prison, Dickerson said he found several aggravating factors, including the fact the Campbells “were able to fully appreciate the wrongfulness of their acts” and that some of the children came to believe they could not get help because of where their parents worked.
Most of the arguments put forth by defense attorneys George Damon and Michael Stories prior to sentencing focused on persuading Dickerson to grant the Campbells probation. The attorneys asked the judge to ignore the other felonies the pair were initially charged with and to disregard what Storie called an “avalanche” of recent allegations by the victims of other old acts of abuse.
Brian Campbell addressed the judge, expressing remorse for his actions toward the victims. Monica Campbell also spoke, telling Dickerson “I pray every day to Jesus that he will give my children peace.” Both defendants also submitted formal sentencing memos to the judge.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Michael Powell pointed out Monica Campbell’s job involved sending deputies to other people’s homes in response to 911 calls about abuse, and that Brian Campbell’s job involved identifying abuse and even removing children from homes if necessary.
Powell argued the four Class 4 felonies each parent pleaded guilty to represented “a tiny drop in the ocean” of the abuse alleged to have occurred in the Campbell home. He added that the plea deals allow the court to consider “any fact” in imposing sentence, including the “life-long trauma” caused to the victims.
Dickerson, however, said he did not find it necessary to consider allegations of other abuse -some purportedly dating back to 2012- given that the Campbells’ guilty pleas represented admissions to four “very serious” crimes.
The judge also acknowledged receiving several “well-meaning” letters of support from family and friends advocating for leniency. The letters, including ones from the Campbells’ two biological children, describe the couple as loving and caring parents. The biological children were not subject to any acts of abuse, according to court records.
Dickerson said he was not giving much weight to the letters given that a person “can portray” themselves one way in public even if “that is not who they really are.” He also pointed out the sentences were already lenient because the plea deals prohibited him from imposing a longer sentence or requiring the parents to serve 12 years -three years for each of the victims.
In July 2018, a CCSO deputy went to the Campbell home near Elfrida for a report of an “out of control” teen who had threatened harm to the family. During the call, the deputy realized Brian Campbell -with the help of his wife- deployed a Taser against the teen who was restrained on the floor.
A home surveillance camera captured part of the incident, showing the teen falling to the floor after what Dickerson said was a “sucker-punch” from Brian Campbell. As the teen struggled under the weight of the much heavier father, the Taser was deployed while the other children watched.
The incident led to a months-long investigation of the Campbell household by CCSO Det. Jesus Davidson. In early 2019, the parents were bound over for trial on multiple felonies and misdemeanors. All counts except the four felonies referenced in the plea deal were permanently dismissed as part of the plea deal.
The four victims were represented throughout the case by Lynne Cadigan, a Tucson-based attorney. Cadigan told Dickerson the kids believed a prison term for each of their former parents was appropriate and they felt the maximum three-year term allowed by the plea would be a “justly and fair” end to the prosecution.
“They really need to go away,” Cadigan said of the Campbells. “This has done permanent damage for these kids.” Three of the victims were in the courthouse to watch as Monica Campbell was taken to a sheriff’s van in handcuffs. Brian Campbell was escorted out later due to ongoing health issues.
The Campbells voluntarily severed their parental rights to the victims in April 2020. They, as well as CCSO and DCS, are named defendants in a multi-million dollar lawsuit concerning how nearly one dozen earlier reports of abuse were handled.