A social worker has been jailed for having sex with a service user in one of the first cases of its kind.
Christopher Bradford, 41, who worked for Hampshire Council, had an affair with a married woman he was treating for post-natal depression, Bournemouth Crown Court heard last week.
The woman, 31, who has not been named for legal reasons, was receiving counselling from Bradford at the time of the affair last year, and saw him as a “father figure”, the court was told.
Bradford, who had been a social worker for 20 years, began giving hugs to the woman during weekly counselling sessions to comfort her.
He made sexual advances including putting his hands up her top and kissing her, the court heard.
Bradford persuaded the woman to go on a break at Green Pastures Christian retreat in Poole, Dorset, to help her recover. He visited her during her stay and they had full sex in her room.
The woman told the court: “Part of me knew it was wrong but I felt that if I didn’t carry on with what was happening he would stop seeing me, as my counsellor, and I couldn’t handle that.”
She added: “He had power over me and it has taken me a long time to admit that.”
The woman returned to the retreat and had sex with Bradford again in June last year before he told her the relationship was over, the court heard.
The woman took an overdose following the rejection and reported Bradford to Hampshire Council.
Bradford, of Eastleigh, Hants, pleaded guilty to a charge of engaging in sexual activity with a mentally disordered female.
The case was one of the first of its kind under sections 38 and 39 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which came into force in 2004, that make it illegal for care workers to have sexual activity with service users.
Bradford was jailed for 17 months and will have to serve at least half his sentence in custody before being released on licence. He must also register as a sex offender for 10 years.