Wondering about that 80-year sentence given to an Erath County teen? Here’s what you didn’t know.
I received a flurry of comments from readers following Tuesday’s story of Bradley Cadenhead’s 80-year prison sentence for possession of child porn.
At first glance, the punishment from District Court Judge Jason Cashon seemed harsh for a 17-year-old. Even I did a double take.
Some wondered why this teenager received such an unforgiving and life-altering sentence when some murderers receive far less.
One Fort Worth attorney baffled by the sentence, asked me to dig into the reason behind its severity.
So I did.
I spent a good portion of the afternoon talking to the Stephenville police officer who worked the case and the man who prosecuted it, and as you’ll see, Cadenhead isn’t your average child porn creep.
“HE IS A SCARY KID.”
Lt. Jeremy Lanier works crimes against children and called the case the most disturbing he has ever seen.
Lanier began his investigation after the Stephenville Police Department was notified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that it had received a number of tips about Cadenhead’s disturbing online behavior.
Lanier received a search warrant for Cadenhead’s home and seized his laptop, which was sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety lab in Austin where a plethora of heinous images and videos were discovered.
“To be perfectly honest, the child pornography is probably the least egregious crime he has committed; he is a scary kid,” Lanier told Beneath the Surface News. “His whole thing is about online manipulation.”
Erath County Assistant District Attorney Jett Smith said Cadenhead referred to himself as a “cult leader” who encouraged others to engage in sextortion and doxing.
“The evidence presented at the punishment hearing showed that the defendant possessed images of young children not only being sexually abused, but also choked, beaten, suffocated and grievously injured,” Smith said. “The defendant used these images to coerce others into mutilating themselves, including carving his screen name into their bodies, and harming animals.”
One particularly disturbing video retrieved from Cadenhead’s computer showed one of his followers killing her hamster.
When asked how Cadenhead responded to the police investigation, Lanier said, “He couldn’t have cared less.”
At the time of his arrest, Cadenhead was living at home and not going to school.
“He spent all of his time on the computer terrorizing people,” Lanier said. “My response to the sentencing is that the evidence showed that he presents a danger to the children and youth of this community.
“If he had continued access to the Internet, I believe he would have continued the behavior.”
Smith also supported Cadenhead’s punishment.
“The depravity and future dangerousness of this defendant is reflected in the sentence handed down by Judge Cashon,” he said.