Matthew William ‘Matt’ Brown made a promising on-camera appearance along with his family for the first time on 6 May 2014, in the premiere of the now world-famous docudrama reality TV series by Discovery Channel entitled “Alaskan Bush People.”
It follows the many trials and tribulations of the unconventional Brown family as they wade through the barely passable Alaskan snow cover, surviving off the relatively barren land in by far the most inhospitable US state. This simple premise made the series very easy to follow and connect with over a short span of time, for a large audience eager to experience on the screen what for most is physically impossible.
Naturally, viewers began picking their favorites, and Matt Brown, being the eldest son of the aging patriarch Billy, was next in line for leadership of the family. He was thus an easy choice for most adolescent men, especially those following in their fathers’ footsteps. His unquestioned popularity among the masses would eventually prove to be as much a curse as it was a blessing, causing his subsequent transgressions to stick to his name in perpetuity.
The consistent increase of Matt’s notoriety eventually led to his contract with the Discovery Channel being cancelled, to the dismay of very few after all was said and done. What most are familiar with when it comes to the Brown son’s wrongdoings is the one singular event that completely overturned his career, but there’s much more to it than meets the eye.
In fact, various underlying issues slowly accumulated without almost anyone noticing, culminating in what is today known as perhaps the biggest media scandal in relation to the Alaskan family. It was actually an overlooked issue that gradually tore down Matt’s public image much faster than it was built, which in retrospect could’ve been dealt with more responsibly.
Addiction – Matt’s judge and executioner
While not exactly televised in the long-awaited trailer prior to the release of “Alaskan Bush People,” nor was it a secret that Matt had had certain run-ins with the law, especially over irresponsible behavior following drunken benders.
An arrest over being drunk behind the wheel doesn’t necessarily warrant a year in a rehab facility, but it’s also a lot more serious than anything a casual drinker would end up being involved in. A decade down the line, many are wondering why the Brown parents didn’t react sooner to the obvious warning signs.
Matt got himself into jail almost an entire year before the series even landed on the TV screen, in an incident that can only be described as extremely irresponsible disregard for the most basic of precautions. Some have argued that this sort of behavior was enabled by his parents not adequately disciplining their children, being rather too lenient in most cases.
A date with fate
According to RadarOnline, which obtained exclusive details of the event, not only do the Browns not exclusively live in the wilderness, but they’re no strangers to long nights out at modern-day nightclubs either. Matt was caught by police after fleeing the scene of an accident he caused, where he rammed a motorcycle with the 1986 Volvo he was supposedly in control of, in the parking lot of a local Wal-Mart.
It later turned out that the vehicle wasn’t his either, as he had actually borrowed it from the girl he went home with after the club. He was lucky that nobody was on the motorcycle at the time – it was standing in the parking lot while its owner went about his business in the store.
That aside, he’s legally obliged to stay on the scene of the impact and report it to the authorities, as well as try to reach some sort of deal with the owner, instead of possibly facing a full-on lawsuit later on. Matt didn’t fancy the idea of going through the consequences of what he caused, speeding off with the unnamed female’s car as though nothing had happened.
The impact took place in Juneau, Alaska, at 4:45AM on 30 August 2013 – Brown was pulled over by police not long after. He vehemently denied having an accident, making it obvious to the authorities throughout the rambling conversation that he was in a very drunken state.
A message from Matt Brown to all of his fans: “Thank you to everyone for your well wishes following my recent accident….
Posted by Alaskan Bush People on Friday, June 9, 2017
Officer Terry Allen detailed in the subsequent report that Matt appeared nervous and spoke rather quickly, emanating a very strong smell, akin to that of a homeless individual. He also firmly refused to admit to any drinking or use of narcotics, stating that his odd behavior at the time was the symptom of his attention deficit disorder.
He did admit to not being the vehicle’s owner, explaining how the girl he had just spent a night with just gave him the keys so he could stock up on some desperately needed chips from Wal-Mart. However, he was unable to provide any significant information about the female, such as her name, location, or phone number.
After another police officer arrived, Matt changed his story and said that the girl’s name might be Julie, as well as that they had ‘two or three’ shots of vodka at a local Viking Bar. Still, he remained adamant that the hit motorcycle had nothing to do with him, in spite of the officers not buying a single word he was uttering.
Brown was then administered a few standard sobriety tests, such as moving the gaze horizontally, walking and turning, and standing on one leg. After he completely failed every single one, the police put cuffs on him and took him to the station, where he was breathalyzed.
It was then discovered that his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.15%, whereas the maximum legal limit for driving in the state of Alaska is 0.08%. Police officers are well aware that individuals with Matt’s BAC at the time are prone to blacking out and vomiting, making the act of driving a potential killing machine an extremely dangerous act.
Matt exhibited similar behavior soon after blowing into the breathalyzer, tripping over himself to try and vomit into the nearby trash basket. He was placed behind bars and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), as well as leaving the scene of an accident. With all of this in mind, it was expected that Billy and Ami Brown would put their foot down upon learning what had transpired, with Matt facing serious repercussions.
Nothing of the sort took place, however, as Billy simply posted bail of $250 and drove his son home. The only real punishment came from the state in February 2014, which had Matt serve three days in jail and spend the following 18 months on probation.
A few years too late
Matt did actually go to rehab, but only three years after the said incident. Some outlets falsely reported that the motorcycle collision caused his family to take action, but this is a false claim based on a misunderstanding of the dates. The RadarOnline article was indeed published in 2015, but it spoke of a police report they only then managed to obtain, which dates back to 20 August 2013.
Taking the article as fresh, breaking news, various media websites subsequently took the year 2015 as the time of the incident, assuming Matt’s departure to a rehabilitation center the following year as a logical course of action. Instead, what actually pushed the Browns to get Matt professional help was a ceaseless drinking bender allegedly brought on by bad company.
He told People magazine that he began spending time with people who drank, and who unlike his family, had no issues with seeing him consume copious amounts of alcohol. He felt unjudged for something that definitely should’ve been put under control, eventually becoming comfortable in a serious alcohol addiction that had been building up over the years.
Matt identified the start of his descent as the time when the family’s boat broke down, causing them to leave the wilderness more and socialize with Juneau locals. Frequenting the pubs there became one of Matt’s favorite activities, and with that came hours upon hours of the main activity at any such establishment.
This definitely made him stand out from among his own, as no other Brown drinks even tiny amounts of alcohol, either on and off camera. Still, the family had faith that the future patriarch would be able to control his urges, and so Matt was allowed to continue living the way he saw fit.
What’s really interesting is that he told People in the same interview that his family had no idea about his drinking habit, until the day he decided to tell them before attending rehabilitation – both the interview and his departure happened in 2016.
How, then, could Billy Brown have bailed Matt out of jail for $250 in 2013, after being informed of everything his son did the previous night, and still have no clue that Matt had actually tasted alcohol before?
From the way he tells the story in the interview, it’s apparent that he’s trying to minimize the Browns’ responsibility for not acting sooer. There are many reasons why he’d want to do this, the most obvious being that the family didn’t need more negative public opinion at the time, what with his father Billy and brother Joshua facing jail time months prior to the interview.
Matt finally attended the Betty Ford Center for persons with substance dependence in Rancho Mirage, California, for a whole 35 days. Some fans even laughed at the idea that a mere month could undo years of growing addiction, but that was apparently enough to persuade the masses that the eldest Brown son was a brand-new man.
— Alaskan Bush People (@AlaskanBushPPL) June 9, 2017
Leaving show business
Having returned to the series right after the short rehab stint in California, Matt initially didn’t struggle with unruly behavior. That grace period wouldn’t last long, however, and he began to fall back into his ways as time dragged on. It was eventually determined by the family that Matt needed more help, and was still unfit for being on the screen with everyone else.
This resulted in Matt’s on-and-off relationship with healthy living, being sent back into rehab in September 2018. Meanwhile, he would always be followed by a few members of the family’s staff, in an effort to help keep his stress level down to a minimum and his behavior in order.
Matt was attended pretty much wherever he went by his manager Shelly Dawn Early, and personal assistant Jessica Jurges. The treatment saw some success over the following months, but apparently not enough for Matt to return to the show.
It was evident that Matt wasn’t done with his journey of recuperation, or that, perhaps, he had another reason for choosing to stay out of the limelight. To the disappointment of numerous fans at the time, he ended up staying in an apartment in California and sticking to a private life. Even his profession at the time remains a mystery, though it’s generally believed that he simply lived off the family’s wealth.
The bomb that blew Matt Brown to smithereens
Everything was fine and good throughout the two years following his departure from the series – Matt was apparently feeling better, living alone, and keeping to himself, while the rest of the family continued their public life. As far as anyone was concerned, Matt simply slipped out of the media’s attention and went about his life as another ordinary civilian.
However, that turned out to be far from the truth, when in September 2020 the aforementioned personal assistant and manager came out with details that no one could’ve imagined. They stated that Matt had raped both of them back in late 2018, while still attending rehabilitation, only days after a long drinking binge.
Jurges described the shocking events that took place in the private swimming pool where she’d been drinking with Matt, saying he kept pressuring her to get into the water with him, in spite of her adamance not to step in as she was a very poor swimmer.
What ensued were two and a half hours of pure torture, as Matt ripped her bathing suit off and proceeded to force himself upon Jessica, who was panicking even more due to being in deep water, nearly drowning in the process.
He was eventually pulled off of her by Shelly, who he subsequently also raped. Matt was aware that she had recently had a hip replacement, rendering her legs nowhere near as strong as before. He apparently used that to his advantage and overpowered her, making her endure the violation until he was too tired to continue.
As they both specified, Matt was too drunk to understand what he was doing at the time, but this fact in no way minimizes what he had committed. Jessica and Shelly reported the crimes to the Tonga Division of the LAPD, but the district attorney refused to prosecute, most likely due to their allegations being extremely difficult to prove a whole two years after the fact.
Guilty of the accusations or not, Matt now understandably carries a lot of negative attention with him, and the family simply can’t afford to have him anywhere around them if they hope to continue running the series, which has released 14 seasons by mid-2023.