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Commonwealth v. Bradshaw

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

November 14, 2018

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WILLIAM BRADSHAW.

          Heard: November 6, 2017.

         Constitutional Law, Sex offender, Self-incrimination. Due Process of Law, Sex offender. Evidence, Sex offender, Prior misconduct. Practice, Civil, Sex offender. Sex Offender. Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on September 13, 2013.

         The case was tried before Brian A. Davis, J.

          Joseph M. Kenneally for the defendant.

          Darcy A. Jordan, Assistant District Attorney (Nicole A. Poirier, Assistant District Attorney, also present) for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Agnes, Maldonado, & McDonough, JJ.

          AGNES, J.

         Following a jury trial, the defendant, William Bradshaw, was found to be a "sexually dangerous person." See G. L. c. 123A, §§ 1, 12, 14. In accordance with the statute, the judge committed the defendant to the Massachusetts Treatment Center (treatment center) for an indeterminate period of from one day to life.

         This appeal followed and requires us to determine whether the judge erred in allowing the Commonwealth to call a witness who testified to instances of uncharged sexual misconduct committed against her by the defendant. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that such evidence was admissible because it was relevant, it did not violate restrictions on the use of character evidence, and its probative value far outweighed any danger of unfair prejudice.

         Background.

         In September, 2013, the district attorney filed a petition to civilly commit the defendant as a sexually dangerous person pursuant to G. L. c. 123A, § 12, based on the defendant's prior adjudications of delinquency and his numerous convictions of sexual offenses. See Commonwealth v. MacLeod, 437 Mass. 286, 290-291 (2002) (describing process pursuant to G. L. c. 123A, § 12 (b), by which appropriate district attorney is notified six months in advance of release from custody of person serving sentence for any one of enumerated sexual offenses, and opportunity that said prosecutor has to determine whether prisoner is likely to be sexually dangerous, and, if so, to file petition in Superior Court alleging that prisoner is sexually dangerous, along with sufficient facts to support same). The filing of a petition by the district attorney under G. L. c. 123A, § 12 (b), triggers a probable cause hearing, see G. L. c. 123A, § 12 (c), [1] which, in turn may lead to a trial. See G. L. c. 123A, § 14. See Commonwealth v. Gross, 447 Mass. 691, 693-694 (2006) .

         In order to prove that a person is a "sexually dangerous person," the Commonwealth must establish, by the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person was "convicted of or adjudicated as a delinquent juvenile or youthful offender by reason of a sexual offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes the person likely to engage in sexual offenses if not confined to a secure facility." G. L. c. 123A, § 1. In the present case, the Commonwealth presented evidence at trial of the defendant's adjudications and convictions, which consisted of a 1999 juvenile commitment for indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of fourteen[2] and two 2012 convictions for rape of a child and indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of fourteen.[3] Each of the three victims in these cases were prepubescent girls (ages three, six, and eight) who were relatives of the defendant.

         Both qualified examiners diagnosed Mr. Bradshaw with pedophilia and antisocial personality disorder. They also stated that the existence of these disorders contributed to their conclusions that he suffers from a mental abnormality[4] and a personality disorder, [5] as defined in G. L. c. 123A, § 1. Doctors Johnson and Belle testified that Mr. Bradshaw had not sufficiently progressed in treatment, had not come to understand his offending behavior, and was likely to reoffend sexually if released from confinement. Dr. Katrin Rouse-Weir, who testified on behalf of Mr. Bradshaw, concluded that he was not sexually dangerous. She testified that though Mr. Bradshaw suffered from pedophilia and antisocial personality disorder, which satisfied the statutory definitions of mental abnormality and personality disorder, he was unlikely to reoffend. The two other qualified examiners testified that Mr. Bradshaw was not of advanced age and did not suffer from poor health, factors that are both associated with lower risks of reoffending. They also noted that Mr. Bradshaw has struggled with substance abuse which, left unaddressed, may diminish inhibitions related to offending.

         Prior to trial, B.B., who also was related to the defendant, spoke with a prosecutor and an investigator and recounted the sexual abuse perpetrated against her by the defendant while she was between the ages of five and eleven, which spanned the years 1995-2001.[6] B.B.'s pretrial statements, which mirror her trial testimony in all material respects, were subsequently memorialized in a report that was provided to the defendant prior to the trial and submitted to the qualified examiners assigned to the case. The defendant filed a pretrial motion to exclude B.B.'s testimony for a number of reasons, including a claim that it ...


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