Registered sex offender is a risk to harm again, psychologist testifies

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | 11:45 p.m. CDT; updated 7:19 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — After a five-hour interview with registered sex offender William G. Bradford in June, clinical and forensic psychologist Kent Franks concluded with a “reasonable amount of scientific certainty” that Bradford is a sexually violent predator and will cause harm again if released into the community.

During testimony Wednesday in the 13th District Circuit Court, Franks detailed Bradford’s sexual history and described his two major mental abnormalities as the state attempted to classify Bradford, 37, as a sexually violent predator under a little-known state law.

If that happens, Bradford would be civilly committed to a Missouri Department of Mental Health facility in Farmington, where he would remain until deemed rehabilitated. The 1999 Missouri statute defines a sexually violent predator as a person with a “mental abnormality” that predisposes the person to committing sexually violent acts. As of 2006, no one civilly committed in Missouri had been released.

In Franks’ testimony, he said that in an interview, Bradford admitted to having a sexual relationship with his sister for a large part of his childhood. The relationship began when Bradford was 8 and his sister was 3, and it continued for about seven years, Franks testified.

Bradford also admitted to fondling his 5-year-old neighbor when he was 14 or 15 years old while baby-sitting.

Ted Bruce, prosecuting the case for the attorney general’s office, asked Franks about Bradford’s psychological disorders.

“He is a psychopath and a pedophile with a personality disorder not otherwise specified with antisocial and narcissistic behavior,” Franks said.

In 1995, Bradford pleaded guilty to three counts of forcible sodomy involving his 3-year-old daughter and served eight years at the Farmington Correctional Center. He is being held in the Boone County Jail. Bradford’s attorney Kirk Zwink said it makes a difference that Bradford has never had a sexual encounter with anyone outside of his family, with the exception of his 5-year-old neighbor.

An incest offender presents a relatively low risk of re-offending, Zwink said, because the “victims are known and the family knows, so it can be prevented.”

Nor has Bradford attempted to hide his past, Zwink said; he has spoken to at least three different psychiatrists.

But Franks, the forensic psychologist, said Bradford would be at a higher risk for repeating the offenses because he never completed the Missouri Sex Offender Treatment Program while at the Farmington Correctional Center. Bradford began the program on two separate occasions.

“Research has repeatedly shown that offenders who start treatment but don’t finish have a statistically higher risk of re-offending than those that complete treatment or don’t start at all,” he said.

Franks testified that he thinks Bradford would start a relationship with a woman to gain access to her children.

“From the psychological and behavioral perspective, there is no indication that Bradford has changed at all,” Franks said.

Cross-examination of Franks, who has performed approximately 12 sexually violent predator evaluations since moving to Missouri in 2004, was set to begin at 8:30 a.m. today. The defense was expected to put its expert witness on the stand.

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