Former Arizona Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford was sentenced to five years in prison Monday morning after pleading guilty in September to two felony counts of aggravated assault domestic violence.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Teresa Godoy sentenced Bradford to 2½ years in prison for each of the two assault counts, to run consecutively. He also was ordered to pay about $22,000 in restitution.
Bradford was arrested in September 2016 after his then-girlfriend told police he had hit and choked her repeatedly over the past two days, when they argued about a scratch on his car and her reluctance to eat a Frosty that he had purchased for her. He was arrested and promptly dismissed from the football team.
The next day, a second woman came forward to say Bradford had hit, choked and threatened her repeatedly while they had dated earlier in the year.
He was subsequently charged with 10 felonies and five misdemeanors in response to the women’s accusations.
Bradford admitted in September to choking each of the two women. He is required to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.
The Star does not typically name victims of domestic violence.
In determining Bradford’s sentence, Godoy said she reviewed sentencing memos from the prosecution and defense, letters written on behalf of Bradford by family and friends, a letter from Bradford and a victim’s impact statement from one of the women.
At the start of the hearing, Deputy Pima County Attorney Brian Hopkins asked the judge to sentence Bradford to 2½ years on each count, saying he showed a “very extreme level of violence over a sustained period of time with multiple victims.”
“He took advantage of these victims over and over again,” Hopkins said.
Both women were in court Monday to read letters to Godoy.
“For months, I was physically and emotionally abused by someone I thought loved me,” the first woman said.
After she reported Bradford to police and despite the fact that her name was not made public, she became known on campus as “the girl who got a football player kicked off the team,” and endured poor treatment by other students, the woman said.
“I didn’t let that stop me,” she said, adding that while in prison, she wants Bradford to get help with his issues.
“He’s going to have to go back out into the world,” she said. “Who knows what might happen next time? There might not be justice.”
Bradford kept his head down as the woman spoke and did not glance up as she returned to the courtroom gallery and his second victim took her place.
“Emotionally, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same,” the woman began. “I masked my real emotions just to deal with his constant abuse.”
The woman said she’s had post-traumatic stress disorder since January 2016 and that the physical scars she bears are “nothing” compared to the emotional scars and trauma she now carries.
She became tearful as she described the physical and emotional abuse she endured at the hands of Bradford, saying that he would tell her she was worthless, threaten her family and stalk her.
“Only God knows what I’ve had to overcome,” she said between tears.
After the women spoke, Hopkins said he and Bradford’s defense attorney, Trevor Hill from the Pima County Public Defender’s Office, had agreed upon restitution of $7,617 for the first woman and $14,589 for the second.
Hill asked Godoy to impose a sentence of one year for each assault, for a total of two years in prison. The attorney said Bradford had accepted “complete and total responsibility” for the incidents.
Bradford cried as Hill talked about his demonstration of remorse and how Bradford had performed well on pre-trial release. “He does not seek to shirk his responsibility,” Hill said. “He knows that the duty falls on him to prepare for life going forward.”
The 21-year-old Bradford still has a “lot of life to live” when he gets out of prison and has family and friends willing to support him, Hill said, gesturing to the nine people who sat behind Bradford in the courtroom.
“The trajectory he was on before, for better or worse, is not there anymore,” Hill said.
Bradford spoke next, sitting at the defense table in his orange Pima County jail uniform, having been taken into custody following his guilty plea in September.
“I just want to say I’m sorry,” he said tearfully. “I want to move forward with my life.”
Bradford apologized to the victims, the UA and his family, before breaking into tears as he apologized to his mother.
Before sentencing Bradford, Godoy addressed him directly, saying it was significant how damaging his conduct was to the victims in the case.
“The sentence I give you will end someday, but you have sentenced them to a life of physical pain and probably not wanting to be vulnerable in a relationship anymore,” Godoy said to Bradford. “You took away something they’ll struggle every day to get back.”
While she said she understood Bradford was raised in a home where domestic violence was the norm, Godoy said the mitigating factors in the case did not outweigh the aggravating factors.
The victims in the case might not ever be made whole again, Godoy said, and “nothing will ever replace that.”
Bradford was given 68 days credit for time served and his attorney’s fees were waived before a deputy led him out of the courtroom to be taken back to jail.
In March, one of Bradford’s victims filed a $1 million notice of claim against the University of Arizona and the Arizona Board of Regents, its governing organization, for failing to stop Bradford’s allegedly violent behavior.
While that claim has not been settled, it has also not yet been filed in court.
Last month, the second woman filed a lawsuit in federal court, saying UA officials knew about Bradford’s allegedly violent behavior and didn’t take steps to protect other students.