published Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Chattanooga man accused of raping girlfriend's 11-year-old son barred from contacting victim

Debbie Wynne, right, swears in Bradley Kenneth Stewart on Monday in Judge Barry Steelman's courtroom.
Debbie Wynne, right, swears in Bradley Kenneth Stewart on Monday in Judge Barry Steelman's courtroom.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

A man accused of raping the 11-year-old son of his deceased ex-girlfriend cannot have any contact with the boy or his family, a Hamilton County Criminal Court judge decided Monday.

Brad K. Stewart, 38, appeared before Judge Barry Steelman on the charge that he raped the son of his 35-year-old ex-girlfriend, who was found by three of her children stabbed and bludgeoned to death in her apartment.

Stewart is accused of raping the boy both before the mother's death and after, when he had custody of all five of her children. He is not a suspect in the killing, police have determined.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press is not using the mother's name to protect the boy's identity.

Stewart had been in the Hamilton County Jail since October, but was released on Dec. 30 on a $40,000 bond. He was joined in the courtroom Monday by his mother and other family members.

During the hearing, Steelman also decided Stewart's defense attorneys cannot have access to records from the state Department of Children's Services about the boy and his siblings because of the records' high level of confidentiality.

Stewart's court-appointed attorney, Mary Ann Green, argued that barring the records gave the prosecution an unfair advantage.

"If he cannot mount a defense because records have been withheld, then his constitutional rights have been damaged," Green said.

Steelman argued that state law does not allow the defense access to the records, but said prosecutors had an obligation to share any information that may be of an advantage to the defense.

On the stand, a soft-spoken Stewart told the judge he is staying in an apartment and is unemployed.

It has been impossible for Stewart to look for employment because his wallet with all his personal information and his keys are still being held by the state as evidence, Green said.

Stewart will appear before Steelman again on Jan. 23, when the judge is expected to decide whether any of Stewart's personal effects will be returned to him.

Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at kharrison@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.

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