File photo — 03/05/09/Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times
Singer Chris Brown escaped a jail term in his felony domestic violence case this afternoon, but the Los Angeles County Superior Court judge slapped him with a tough probation sentence. Judge Patricia Schnegg sentenced the popular R&B entertainer to five years of felony probation, 180 days of community labor, and 52 weeks in a domestic violence counseling program. Brown will be serving his sentence in his home state of Virginia, but must return here periodically to provide Judge Schnegg with a progress report.
In June, the 20-year-old Brown pretty much accepted these terms when he admitted he was guilty of felony assault as part of a plea deal. The singer was arrested last February and was charged with beating then pop star girlfriend, Rihanna, during an argument in a rented sports car on a residential street in Los Angeles. It’s hard to forget that photo of Rihanna’s battered face.
Earlier, a protective order was issued for the 21-year-old victim, Robyn Rihanna Fenty. Today the judge extended that restraining order until the end of Brown’s five years of probation. That may be the toughest punishment of all for Brown. Also, the judge warned Brown that she had heard “chatter” on the airwaves, like the rest of us, about the former lovers hooking up. If that happens from here on, it’s a violation of Brown’s probation and that would send him to state prison.
Meanwhile, Brown’s career has taken a beating as well. Since his arrest, the entertainer has lost lucrative endorsements and some radio stations have stopped playing his music. Rebuilding his career and image will probably be a top priority for Brown.