The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 1, 2013

Man convicted of raping child seeks new trial

Kathy Mellott
kmellott@tribdem.com

BEDFORD — An allegation that a Bedford County judge became emotional and wiped away tears during testimony in a child rape trial was one of many reasons argued Friday in a traveling preacher’s request for a new trial.  

Pittsburgh attorney Thomas Crawford alleged that emotion shown by Judge Thomas Ling was prejudicial toward the Rev. Walter Bradshaw and played a role in his conviction.

That brought an angry response from the bench.

“I can’t recall ever crying over a case,” Ling said. “Maybe I am callous and maybe I lack the milk of human kindness, but I have yet to cry in a domestic case or a criminal case.”

Ling, who has been on the bench for more than 15 years, said his eyes “tend to accumulate film,” so he wipes them. The judge said he is willing to take an oath that he did not cry during  testimony in the case.

Bradshaw, 63, of Lexington, N.C., was convicted in September of 22 counts of rape and related charges for the 2008 assault on the girl, who was then 11.

According to trial testimony, the molestation took place at the Janey Lynn Motel in Bedford Township as Bradshaw was preparing to take the girl to the Erie area for revival meetings.

Earlier in 2012, the girl’s mother, Gazella Oldham, had pleaded guilty to charges of taking her daughter to the motel and allowing her to spend the night.

Bradshaw was sentenced in December to 66 to 150 years in prison.

He is well-known in the Cambria-Somerset region for holding summer revival services.

A post-sentencing appeal filed by Crawford listed a number of reasons why the carpenter-minister should be given a new trial. Among them is an allegation that District Attorney William Higgins giggled in front of the jury during part of the trial.

The defense also maintains that Ling threatened in front of the jury to hold Crawford in contempt of court. Ling said the incident occurred after the panel had left the courtroom.

Crawford said there were improper instructions to the jury when Ling refused to give jurors written instructions on the elements of the charges, something they later said they did not need.

Objections also were raised because Ling accepted the opinion of a state-appointed evaluator that Bradshaw is a pedophile and a sexually violent predator.

Crawford said Bradshaw’s behavior toward the girl was not violent, a statement that prompted Higgins to say: “When a person who is an adult has sex with a child, that is a violent act.”

Ling said he would decide on the request for a new trial by the end of April.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.