This story was updated at 4:50 p.m. on Feb. 2, 2021, to include additional comments from the victims and from Circuit Court Judge Eric Johnson
A Kensington man who assaulted a group of young adults on Bethesda’s Capital Crescent Trail last summer was sentenced Tuesday to three years of probation.
Anthony Bernard Brennan III, now 61, was charged by Maryland-National Capital Park Police in June with assaulting a man and two women, all ages 18 and 19, earlier that week.
Multiple videos of the group showed a man accosting one woman, while another young woman screams at him to get off of her. He is then seen grabbing his bike and rushing toward a young man filming the incident.
Brennan apologized to the victims during Tuesday’s hearing, saying he “lost control that day.”
“I never meant to harm anyone. I’m so filled with deep remorse to the victims,” he said. “I think I understand your trauma. I acted impulsively that day, and I pray this does not affect you in the long term.”
Callan Daniel, one of the victims, said during Tuesday’s virtual hearing that she and her sister Sarah had cast their votes in Maryland’s primary earlier that day, and had planned a day of political action in putting up the flyers.
The three teens were putting up fliers on the trail about the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis the previous week after a white police officer pinned him to the ground for almost nine minutes.
Daniel said on Tuesday that she had been “slightly nervous” that day in June because it was a “tense time for the nation.”
“Many of those nerves were calmed when two women rode by on bikes and thanked us for what we were doing. The next biker, you, Mr. Brennan, was not so nice,” she said.
Daniel said Brennan caused her “fear, pain, anxiety and helplessness” that day and that the memory still haunts her, particularly when she has to relive the experience by seeing news coverage of the video.
Daniel said the last thing Brennan screamed at the group as he was leaving was that they would “never amount to anything.”
“I’d like to thank you, Mr. Brennan, because now we have all the more reason to prove that we will,” she said.
Another victim, Isaac Hillman, also spoke briefly during Tuesday’s hearing.
Hillman, in response to a request for forgiveness that Brennan’s attorney made from the victims, said he wasn’t ready to forgive Brennan yet, despite the apology.
“I want to ask the defendant, rhetorically, whether these actions are coming from real goodness or being caught and suffering from the consequences of your actions. I want the defendant to really think about that and consider that,” Hillman said.
Following the incident on the trail, people took to social media in an attempt to identify the man who accosted the group. Two people were mistakenly identified as the cyclist seen in the video.
Park Police charged Brennan on June 5 with three counts of second-degree assault. He pleaded guilty to the charges on Dec. 16.
Montgomery County Circuit Judge Eric Johnson sentenced Brennan to three years of probation. The first year will be supervised, followed by two years of unsupervised probation.
Johnson also sentenced Brennan to three years of incarceration for each count of assault, with all time suspended. The three sentences run consecutive to each other.
Additionally, Johnson mandated that Brennan participate in an anger management program for the first year of his probation, and that he be evaluated to determine whether he needs further treatment for an alcohol addiction.
Brennan also was ordered not to have any contact with the victims.
Johnson said before issuing the sentence that he doesn’t think Brennan is a “bad person,” but he showed “bad conduct” on the Capital Crescent Trail by assaulting the victims and interfering with their constitutional right to protest peacefully.
“You allowed your disagreement to manifest itself in the form of criminal action,” he told Brennan.
Johnson commended Brennan for his apology, and said it sounded sincere.
Johnson said that in considering the severity of sentencing, it’s important for people to realize that the “measure of whether the criminal justice system is effective or not” is not simply “whether or not someone goes to jail.”
“When a person is charged with a crime, that is a part of an impact on them … that is a part of the penalty of what is happening to them,” he said.
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