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TG History — Butcher Brown, Part 3

| Jan 18, 2010
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Michelle Moore brings you TG History“I swear this oath by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius, by Health and by all the gods and goddesses: In whatsoever place that I enter I will enter to help the sick and heal the injured — and I will do no harm.” — The Hippocratic Oath

Note: For the full article please refer to Part 1 and Part 2 published over the last two months. It’s chilling stuff.

Underground surgeon John Ronald Brown, after decades of performing illegal and unsafe sex change operations, was just busted in the amputation death of Philip Bondy. Bondy had a condition called apotemnophilia, a fetish in which an individual is sexually turned on by missing limbs and sometimes wishes to become an amputee. But of course no reputable doctor would do such a thing. Brown however…

butcher_brownIn 1998 Brown had amputated Bondy’s leg in Mexico and Bondy was happy at first even though he had felt Brown “sawing” on his leg. Since it was also illegal to amputate a healthy leg in Mexico, Brown disposed of the evidence by driving 15 miles into the desert and throwing the leg out the window for the coyotes. Brown then drove Bondy to his room in the San Diego Holiday Inn, where he gave Bondy some lessons in walking with crutches before leaving Bondy alone to fend for himself. Bondy was later found dead. “I saw the phone tipped over,” Bondy’s friend said. “I saw the wheelchair upsided. I saw the sheets pulled out. I touched the top of his head. Rigor mortis had set in. This man did not have a peaceful death.”


Deputy D.A. Running asked the judge to hold Brown without bail on the grounds that he was an “incredibly dangerous individual to the citizens both of the United States and Mexico.” Initially, Brown had been charged with involuntary manslaughter but after reviewing the evidence against him Deputy D.A. Running upgraded the charges to “implied malice murder in the second degree.” This applies in cases where the defendant does something that is dangerous to human life, knowing it is dangerous to human life and doing it anyway. The police didn’t exactly lack for evidence — after searching Brown’s San Ysidro apartment they found bloody shoes, bloody pillows, used needles, silicone vials, and two or three dozen empty tubes of Krazy Glue, bloody towels in the bathtub soaking in bleach, bloody swabs in a travel bag, and dozens of returned advertising brochures reading:

The prettiest pussies are John Brown pussies. — The happiest patients are John Brown patients. Because . . . . Each has a sensitive — 2. All (99%) get orgasms — 3. Careful skin draping gives a natural appearance — 4. Men love the pretty pussies and the sexy response.

Police also found several videotapes of Brown’s operations including one entitled “Jack Has a New Pisshole Behind His Balls.” This showed Brown cutting an opening in a man’s urethra just behind his testicles so he could urinate sitting down.

butcher_brownBut it was Brown’s transsexual surgery promotion video that most fired up the prosecution against him. “He has a microphone, and his hand is kind of shaking,” Deputy D.A. Running told reporter Paul Ciotti. “You see him reach up and grab his hand. And this is his dominant hand, the one he operates with. He holds up crude drawings, ripped out of a spiral notebook. He says, ‘This is the corpa… the corpa . . .’ He’s stumped on the word. He finally says it, ‘the capora cavernosa,’ the spongy tissue on the underside of the penis. He goes on in this vein. You can see him waving [the cameraman] off when he loses a thought. The tape was so crude — you could hear dogs barking during the surgery and music playing. The scrotal skin was lying on a board. It had pushpins in it. It was so dirty and dried out, it looked like it had been run over by a tire.”

“I’ve seen medical videos before,”said investigator Tom Basinski. “Usually the scalpel slices right in. But Brown’s scalpel was so dull he had to push hard, saw back and forth. “I said to myself, ‘Oh, my God. This is why this guy has to be stopped.”

Not surprisingly men at the trial found Brown’s operation videos to be rather upsetting.

“Do I have to watch this surgery?” one courtroom witness asked.

“Well, yes, you do,” the Prosecutor replied. “You’re the Judge.”

“Brown does an operation called an ‘ileum loop,'” Deputy D.A. Running told Ciotti, “in which he takes a piece of intestine, leaving it attached to the blood supply, and diverts it to make a vagina. The problem is, your intestines digest food, secrete enzymes, they smell. He almost killed a rebuttal witness (at a prior trial) by doing that to her. He pulls all your guts out on your stomach. Your intestines are connected to your vaginal lining. In many cases he stitches it back to your stomach, and you get peritonitis. He is quite the adventuresome surgeon. He uses human beings for guinea pigs. He is as close to Josef Mengele as you can get. But I couldn’t say that in court. It would have been grounds for a mistrial.”

But to make the murder charge stick, the prosecution needed to show Brown had a longstanding history of reckless surgery. That meant finding patients to testify against him and they weren’t easy to come by. Many of Brown’s clients were unstable people who hadn’t been accepted by the reputable clinics. Some denied knowing Brown while others made complete statements only to recant them later. Many lived in stealth and didn’t want their past exposed. When an investigator began calling people on Brown’s patient list, many simply hung up on him. “Some were hookers,” he said. “Some thought they were in trouble. Some just didn’t like the police. I called one woman and an older woman answered. ‘Why do you want my son?’ she said. ‘He committed suicide two weeks ago.'”Nevertheless a number of brave individuals did come forward to tell their own horror stories against Brown.

“It was a tough case,” Brown’s attorney later admitted. “The evidence, facts, and the law were all against us.” With no real defense, Brown’s attorney tried portraying him as a kindly man courageously helping a forgotten segment of society. “No one else would deal with transsexuals,” went his closing argument. “John Brown said, ‘I’ll deal with them.’ Did he do this for money? No. He did it because he cared. And if you don’t believe that, then you have my permission — as if you needed it — to find him guilty of murder.”

After deliberating for a single day that’s exactly what the jury did, convicting Brown of second-degree murder. Brown’s attorney immediately announced he would appeal.

Brown didn’t remain idle while awaiting his appeal. He wrote to a dozen states, asking if they would consider giving him a license to serve some remote, rural community. Brown also told Paul Ciotti that in 1977 after he lost his license he went walking up a hill one night carrying a kerosene lantern when God spoke to him. “Words started pushing into my mind,” said Brown. “The words kept coming up for two days. The message began: ‘Why do you kick against the traces?’ It went on: ‘You should know that the details of your life have been arranged so that you would be where you are now, doing what you are doing.’ I knew that meant working with the transsexuals. It went on: ‘What you are doing is appreciated, because these are my children, too.'”

Brown said he knew he’d been given a mission — to take care of the surgical needs of God’s children, the transsexuals.

dr_brownAfter he is released from jail, Brown plans include raising money to finish development of a “hyperthermia chamber” that will cure cancer, AIDS, and genital herpes.  And just in case God forgets about him, Brown frequently “reminds” God of the “special program I plan for AIDS babies, and I pray every night He will release me soon.”

Postscript: On August 3, 2001, the Fourth Appellate District Court formally denied Brown’s appeal. John Ronald Brown is now serving 15 years to life in the California State Prison System.

Update: Brown died in prison on May 16, 2010.


The Peculiar Practice of Dr. John Ronald Brown, Paul Ciotti, December 17-23, 1999
The L.A Weekly scored three awards from the Greater L.A. Press Club for this article; Paul Ciotti won first place in Feature Story Competition.
Organ Grinder, Paul Ciotti, San Francisco Metropolitan, March 20, 2000
Murder Case Centers on Amputation Fetish, Randy Dotinga,, Sept. 30, 1999
Out On a Limb, Randy Dotinga, Salon Magazine
How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States, Professor Joanne Meyerowitz
The Tijuana Experience, Dallas Denny, 1992
Dr. Brown Appears to be Back in Business, AEGIS Advisory, June 25,1992
Dr. John Brown: A Surgeon to Avoid, AEGIS Advisory, May 21, 1993
C.A. Upholds Doctor’s Conviction in Botched Mexican Surgery, Kenneth Ofgang, Metropolitan News Enterprise, Monday, August 6, 2001
California Courts of Appeal Reports, PEOPLE v. BROWN, 91 Cal.App.4th 256 (2001) D035066
Information about the Julie Phillips lawsuit courtesy of Susan Stryker. The author gratefully thanks Dallas Denny for her invaluable assistance with this article.

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  1. Dallas Denny Dallas Denny says:

    Michelle, what a wonderful series on John Brown! You really fleshed out his horrible career of carnage.

    In her Alicia’s TV Girl Talk, the late Alicia’s Lichy published a series of articles about the life-threatening aftermath of Brown’s transsexual surgeries. My copies are now at the University of Michigan’s Labadie collection. Next time I’m in Ann Arbor I plan to get scans or photocopies. I’ll get an extra set for you, and anything else I can think of that will help you with your great columns.

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