Former Grafton man sentenced to 25-30 years for molesting child

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BRATTLEBORO — A former Grafton man was sentenced to 25 to 30 years in prison for molesting the son of close friends.

Thomas Badger, 42, had pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct against a child; he was sentenced on Friday.

Badger, who has been in jail since he was arrested in 2015, was previously convicted of sexual misconduct with a child. On Friday a third victim came forward and testified about how he had been molested by Badger more than 20 years earlier, according to Windham County Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein.

Gartenstein said the third victim, who is still a teenager, did not testify during Badger's sentencing, but his mother did attend. He said the boy was extremely traumatized by the repeated assaults, which started when he was five years old and continued until he was 14, when he finally told his mother about the sexual abuse. A psychologist and a psychiatrist who examined the boy both agreed he suffered from extreme trauma, and said that testifying against Badger was likely to trigger a severe psychological reaction. Gartenstein said, as a result, he dropped the most serious charge against Badger — aggravated sexual assault — to protect the boy from having to testify in open court.

"This was a case involving a report and an admission of long term sexual abuse. And the sentence reflected that," Gartenstein said Monday. He said he believed the sentence was "sufficient to serve the interests of justice. We're protecting a very traumatized victim from having to testify."

Gartenstein said the family of the victim supported the plea agreement with Badger, and he said their priority was resolving the case, which had dragged on for close to four years.

Badger, acting as his own attorney, had challenged the competence of his first court-appointed lawyer, and even the first judge on the case. As recently as Dec. 25, 2018, he had tried to dismiss his most recent court-appointed lawyer, Janssen Wilhoit, according to Badger's hand-written letter asking the court for permission.

Gartenstein said Windham Superior Court Judge John Treadwell made a finding on the record that Badger had employed several legal strategies "with the intent to delay the proceedings." He denied Badger's motion to force Wilhoit to withdraw.

Gartenstein said the first victim, who came forward after reading about Badger's arrest, never reported the abuse to authorities, and the statute of limitations on his case had expired, so no additional charges could be filed against Badger. He said the law has since been changed, and there is no statute of limitations on sexual assault cases.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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