Central Texas man guilty in sexual assault of young relative in Bellmead

Bradshaw, 21, was on trial in Waco’s 19th State District Court on a charge of aggravated sexual...
Bradshaw, 21, was on trial in Waco’s 19th State District Court on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child. He was found guilty.(Tommy Witherspoon for KWTX)
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 4:41 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A 21-year-old Bellmead man was convicted Wednesday of sexually assaulting a 5-year-old family member in 2019 and now faces up to life in prison without parole.

Jurors in Waco’s 19th State District Court deliberated 5 ½ hours before finding Charles Bradshaw guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Bradshaw elected to have Judge Thomas West assess his punishment.

At the request of prosecutors Will Hix and Tara Avants and defense attorney Abel Reyna, the judge ordered a presentence investigation to be performed by probation officers, which the judge said would include a psychiatric evaluation, before deciding Bradshaw’s punishment.

West has set sentencing for Bradshaw for Sept. 16.

Avants said she and Hix appreciate the jury’s “attentiveness and thoughtfulness.”

“The verdict helped a young child obtain justice while simultaneously holding an abuser accountable,” she said.

Reyna, a former McLennan County district attorney, deferred comment after the three-day trial, saying he would wait until Bradshaw is sentenced.

Bradshaw otherwise would be eligible for probation. However, the offense for which he was convicted precludes probation as an option. Bradshaw, who has been jailed 1,010 days waiting for trial, is looking at a minimum of 25 years in prison without parole.

The jury of six women and six men, which began deliberating about 10:40 a.m., sent a note to the judge about 3:25 p.m. telling him that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict. The judge instructed them to keep deliberating and they returned the guilty verdict an hour later.

In prosecution testimony Tuesday, the child’s mother and the associate director of the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children both testified the girl said Bradshaw forced her to put his penis in her mouth while Bradshaw was naked in his bedroom at a home in the 1100 block of Gilliam Street.

However, the girl, who is now 8, seemed to withdraw and became quiet when Hix started to focus on the incident of abuse. She said she could not remember if Bradshaw abused her in his bedroom.

The girl’s mother testified she came home early from work and found Bradshaw naked in bed with the young family member. She said the girl put her finger in her mouth when she asked her if Bradshaw touched her inappropriately. The mother immediately called police.

Reyna tried to plant seeds of doubt by asking the mother about her contentious relationship with Bradshaw, including a violent confrontation between the two a month before the allegations surfaced and another conflict the weekend before the woman reported the abuse.

In closing statements, Avants told the jury that if the mother concocted the abuse story and convinced her daughter to go along with it, then the young girl would have testified differently so she could please her mother.

Hix said if the mother made up the story merely to get Bradshaw out of her house, there are much easier ways to achieve that than by “weaponizing her 5-year-old daughter.”  He told jurors that the girl likely balked because she was in a strange room in front of strangers while seated in close proximity to the man she said abused her.

“For this system, for everything it gets right, it doesn’t get kids right. Kids should never have to sit 10 feet from their abusers, but that is how it has to be done. The defendant has rights,” Hix said.

Reyna reminded the jury about the high burden of proof required to convict Bradshaw and that the presumption of innocence provided under the constitution should outweigh a case with borderline evidence.

Reyna suggested that by testifying she doesn’t remember if Bradshaw abused her, that was the girl’s way of saying the abuse never happened so she wouldn’t have to lie anymore.

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