BRATTLEBORO — A former town resident on Friday was sentenced to more than two decades in prison for sexually abusing a boy from the Monadnock Region.
Thomas B. Badger, 42, of Grafton, Vt., pleaded guilty in 2017 to two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. At Badger’s sentencing hearing Friday in the Windham Criminal Division of Vermont Superior Court, Judge John R. Treadwell sentenced him to 25 to 30 years in prison.
Badger is incarcerated at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt.
According to police affidavits filed in the Brattleboro court, the abuse occurred multiple times over a period of years. The boy, then younger than 14, would visit Badger in Brattleboro and later in Grafton. On nearly every visit, Badger would touch him inappropriately, forcibly kiss him and rub himself on him, the boy told an investigator in 2015.
Once, Badger pinned him down on a bed while trying to pull off the boy’s pants, the boy said, according to one of the affidavits. He broke away from Badger after a struggle.
The boy said he began spending time with Badger, a family friend, when he was around 5 or 6, but couldn’t remember exactly when the abuse started, according to court documents. He reported the abuse as a 13-year-old in early 2015, his mother said at a court hearing.
Two psychologists testified that the boy seemed to have post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a 2016 court ruling. His symptoms, said one doctor, included anxiety, trouble sleeping, “extreme fear” of Badger, a distrust of men and authority figures and a feeling that the world was not safe for him.
The experience was devastating in part because Badger was a trusted adult figure, the psychologist wrote in a report. “This type of trauma violates the trust and confidence normally attributed to someone the victim felt dependent on for safety and protection.”
Badger was held without bail after his arrest in April 2015, the Brattleboro Reformer reported at the time. The case has dragged on for nearly four years amid a series of unusual delays.
In February 2016, 10 months after his arraignment, Badger signed a plea agreement under which he would have served four to 10 years in prison, according to court documents. But before pleading guilty, he changed his mind and the case proceeded to trial.
On March 22, 2017, Deputy State’s Attorney David W. Gartenstein opened the trial with a statement to jurors laying out his case. According to a transcript of the proceeding, Badger’s attorney, Kevin Rambold, then asked for one more chance to talk to his client.
After they conferred, Badger pleaded guilty to the two lewd and lascivious conduct charges, and jurors were sent home. Gartenstein agreed to drop a third, more serious charge of aggravated sexual assault of a victim under 13. But he refused to bargain on a sentence, meaning a judge could sentence Badger to anywhere from four to 30 years in prison.
Less than two weeks later, in April 2017, Badger filed a motion to withdraw his guilty pleas, claiming his attorney “coerced and pressured” him. A judge denied the motion and called Badger’s allegations “fanciful” in a July 2018 ruling.
The decision to let the guilty pleas stand allowed the case to proceed to sentencing Friday.