3.12.2011

Ryan Bowman's jail sentence filled with perks

ONE-time high-flying Australian entrepreneur Ryan Bowman sat trembling in the Beverly Hills courtroom, tears rolling down his cheeks, as he listened to the heartbreaking words from a family destroyed by his actions.

At the end of the emotionally-charged proceedings, Bowman, a good-looking 34-year-old Queenslander who helped launch the GirlsGoneWild soft porn business in Australia, would be sentenced to just under a year in jail and be allowed perks most inmates in California's overcrowded prison system could only dream about.

Just before midnight on November 10 last year, Bowman was driving his Bentley down West Hollywood's famed Sunset Strip while Lauren, who had been enjoying a night out with friends at the popular club The Roxy, was on a pedestrian crossing.

Bowman's Bentley struck the 21-year-old, catapulting her 15 metres in the air. Freeman's promising young life ended in a bloody, crumpled mess on the road.

But instead of stopping to help, Bowman kept going, driving his luxury vehicle to a residential area of West Hollywood. It was not until the next day, accompanied by one of LA's top lawyers, Blair Berk, that Bowman handed himself in to LA County Sheriffs.

"What I can't understand is how the defendant could leave my little girl in the street like a piece of trash," Lauren's father, Baltimore lawyer Steve Freeman, said in an emotional address to the court.

A few moments later, Mr Freeman stopped talking, looked across at Bowman, and for five chilling seconds locked eyes with him.

When Mr Freeman opened his mouth again, he erupted, maintaining his glare at Bowman and releasing some of the pain his wife, Donna, 24-year-old son Andrew and friends and family had endured since losing Lauren in such a violent way.

"Like a piece of trash on the road," Mr Freeman yelled. "My little girl."

Mr Freeman's address was one of nine tear-filled, victim impact statements verbally delivered by Lauren's family members and friends. Bowman, breathing heavily and his voice shaking, stood and told the Freemans he was "ashamed" and "will be forever haunted" by Lauren's death.

Bowman was originally arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence which carried a hefty jail sentence. Bowman was sentenced to 364 days jail at the Seal Beach Police Detention Center, a facility that, according to the jail's website, "boasts a newly renovated kitchen, library, commissary, inmate programs and in-room cable television with a movie library".

If Bowman does not contravene his probation, the conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanour and expunged from his criminal record.

Bowman has also agreed to pay the Freemans an undisclosed amount of restitution. The Freemans have launched a civil lawsuit against Bowman, with the family's private investigator, John Nazarian, serving Bowman as he left court.
Bowman has until Saturday to turn himself into the Seal Beach jail.

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