By Ryan Brown
BEDFORD - A Bedford County jury early today found a North Carolina evangelist guilty of 22 of 24 counts for the 2009 sexual assault of a then-11-year-old girl.
The jury's nearly two hours of deliberations occurred at the end of a marathon session in the case of the Rev. Walter Donald Bradshaw in Bedford County Court. Prior to deliberations, the second day of Bradshaw's trial lasted almost 13 hours with testimony, delays, closing arguments and jury instructions.
Bradshaw, 63, of Lexington, N.C., faced 24 charges, including rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. He was found not guilty of two counts of indecent assault.
Bradshaw has been jailed since his November 2010 arrest in North Carolina. The girl's mother, who was charged with bringing her daughter to a Bedford Township motel for Bradshaw where the girl was assaulted, pleaded no contest and is currently serving a two- to six-year state prison sentence.
Bradshaw will be required to undergo a Megan's Law evaluation by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board.
No date was scheduled for Bradshaw's sentencing.
The jury asked two questions of President Judge Thomas Ling before returning its verdict.
Bradshaw, a minister in the Protestant holiness movement, took the stand in his own defense and said he did not sexually assault the girl as claimed by the girl and the prosecution.
Bradshaw testified that the alleged victim, now 15, became "belligerent" when she demanded that he spend the night in bed with her at the motel. Bradshaw said he refused her requests and slept in a separate bed on the night of April 2, 2009.
During a lengthy cross-examination, Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins pressed Bradshaw on a phone conversation with the alleged victim that state troopers had recorded.
Bradshaw maintained that his repeated apologies to the girl during the call weren't references to a sex act.
"I was apologizing because she was lying and I knew she was lying," he testified.
At one point, Bradshaw angrily said he did not assault the girl. Higgins tried to make the point in his closing argument that Bradshaw's defense of himself was only passionate when he was accused for the more serious sex crimes.
"If you didn't go along with her, she could turn on you," Bradshaw said in explaining that the girl could be very vindictive.
Bradshaw's wife, Sharon, was a character witness on her husband's behalf.
"He was well-received, well-liked, well-loved and well-respected by everyone in the community from the youngest to the oldest," she said.
Defense attorney Thomas Crawford tried to hammer home the point that the girl could not be trusted with her testimony because she had repeatedly changed her story, including during a deposition.
"Occasionally she tells the truth. I'm just looking for a place where she does," he said.
Crawford told the jury that if it didn't believe the girl, there is no case because the charges rest on her testimony.
As he held a stack of greeting cards the girl sent to Bradshaw and his wife, Higgins told the jury that the girl loved the Bradshaws as grandparents but something changed her in 2009.
It was Walter Bradshaw's sexual assault of her, Higgins concluded to the jury.
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.