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Former Floyd County coach sentenced to more than three years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

A former Floyd County teacher was sentenced Thursday to three and a half years in prison for crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors while she was their coach and teacher, Kentucky’s attorney general said. Russell Coleman announced.

April Bradford, 51, of Weeksbury, pleaded guilty Nov. 30 to eight counts of third-degree sodomy and 11 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, according to a Coleman news release. Coleman’s office prosecuted the case.

As part of her guilty plea, Bradford admitted that she sexually abused two minors between 1997 and 2007, both of whom she held a position of authority as their coach and teacher during the victims’ middle and high school years.

“The perpetrators who exploit children inflict painful harm that lasts long after the time of their crimes. We in law enforcement must continue to adapt to protect our youth from these predators,” said Coleman.

Bradford was suspended as assistant principal at South Floyd Elementary School when the abuse allegations came to light in 2022.

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In addition to her prison sentence, Bradford will be a lifetime sex offender registrant under the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry, which includes five years of post-incarceration supervision by the Department of Corrections. A condition of the plea was a 10-year interpersonal protection order against Bradford for the benefit of the victims.

Survivors of Bradford’s abuse read statements at the sentencing:

“April Bradford had a terrible impact on my life and caused more damage than good,” Mary Prater said. “She deceived me, my family, our school and everyone in the community. I can hold my head high today knowing that God has given me and Jessica the strength to grow up and make it stop.”

Prater and Jessica Hensley recently told the Herald-Leader they are frustrated that more hasn’t been done to address teachers who prey on students.

“Ever since I realized what my interactions with April really were, I had a burning desire to come forward. I was constantly concerned about the generation of girls who followed me,” Hensley’s sentencing statement said. “This legal journey has been mentally difficult, but I am grateful.”

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Coleman said he was grateful to Prater and Hensley for using their “powerful stories to ensure justice was done,” according to the sentencing announcement.

A September 2022 investigation by the Herald-Leader exposed the problem of teacher sexual misconduct in Kentucky. The newspaper obtained 194 cases of teachers who voluntarily surrendered or had their licenses revoked or suspended between 2016 and 2021. Of those, 118 – 61% – have lost their license due to sexual misconduct.

House Bill 275 in the 2024 General Assembly, introduced by House Education Committee Chairman James Tipton, R-Taylorsville, would strengthen a school’s ability to prevent sexual abuse of children by adult staff. It increases reporting requirements for teachers, making it more difficult for teachers previously accused of sexual misconduct to move from school to school.

Under the bill, any previous allegation of sexual misconduct would be kept in the teacher’s file unless proven false. Then it would be removed. Teachers should also receive training on appropriate boundaries between teachers and students. Both Prater and Hensley previously said the legislation was too late.

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The current bill has been approved by the Kentucky House of Representatives, but has not yet been considered in the Senate. A similar bill was proposed in 2023, but was not passed.

Staff writer Beth Musgrave contributed to this report.

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