a picture of a gavel

It took jurors less than three hours on Jan. 17 to convict 47-year-old Avery Christopher Bradford of raping two women in Athens, Ga. Bradford was found guilty on all charges: two counts of rape and aggravated assault, three counts of aggravated sodomy and one count of aggravated sexual battery. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, though his sentence date has not been announced.

The victims were two homeless women living in Clarke County, Ga. who courageously stepped forward to report the crimes to the police. In spite of their situation, the women believed they had a right to justice.

Law enforcement officials said that Bradford raped the women because they were easy targets, given
their homelessness.

“These women were beaten and raped because they were homeless and vulnerable, and they were vulnerable because they were addicted to crack cocaine,” Assistant District Attorney Jon Forwood said
in his address to the jury.

“They are counting on you and the law to find him guilty as charged,” he added.

As Bradford’s arrest and trial prove, any victim can have an active voice in society. Moreover, being homeless should never stop an individual from speaking out when he or she experiences injustice. Often, those pushed to the lower rungs of society are cruelly mistreated and expected to keep silent. Thankfully, there are those, like Brad- ford’s victims, who step forward and take their perpetrators to task. Women faced with homelessness can and do speak out when wronged, and justice can be served.

Individuals forced into a state of homelessness, and/or who are experiencing addictions, can be (and tragically, often are) victims of rape and other mistreatment given the dangers of their situation. Indeed, Bradford’s victims and all women experiencing homelessness should be treated with dignity and respect. Although the outcome of the trial is still pending, here at Street Sense we are pleased to know that justice will almost certainly be served for the two women in Athens.

At Street Sense, we have a special opportunity for women during Women of Street Sense to share their life stories. WSS meetings are held every third Wednesday of the month to encourage women to voice their perspectives on society. We remind women and individuals that their unique experience in Washington, D.C., is important. These meetings address women’s health, safety, well-being and other issues pertinent to living in a state of homelessness. Our next WSS meeting, about the powers of poetry, will be Feb. 15 at 2 p.m.

Nikki Conyers is  the WSS Special Events Coordinator.