Social worker sacked and jailed for having sex with client he counselled

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, was sentenced to 17 months after pleading guilty to an affair with a woman he was treating for post-natal depression, Bournemouth Crown Court heard last week.

It was one of the first successful prosecutions of a care worker for having sex with a person with mental health problems in their care under section 38 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

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 sex.

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 that he “had power over me.”

The woman returned to the retreat and had sex with Bradford in June last year before he told her the relationship was over, the court heard. She took an overdose following the rejection and reported Bradford to the council.

The council said it deplored the “exploitation of a service user by a care worker in a position of trust”.

Bradford, of Eastleigh, was sacked after the verdict, having been suspended after the woman reported him. He must serve at least half his sentence in custody and register as a sex offender for 10 years.

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