published Monday, January 9th, 2012

Hearing set for Chattanooga man accused of raping child

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    Brad K. Stewart, 38, was indicted in Hamilton County on a charge of child rape in October 2011. His hearing on charges of raping his slain girlfriend's young son begins Monday.

The ex-boyfriend of a woman stabbed to death last year will have a hearing today on charges of repeatedly raping her 11-year-old son, according to a Hamilton County indictment.

Brad K. Stewart, 38, was indicted on a charge of child rape in October, almost a year after a 35-year-old woman was found stabbed and bludgeoned in her apartment by three of her children coming home from school. The 11-year-old wound up on a neighbor's front porch, weeping after discovering his mother's body.

Her newborn daughter, just 16 days old, was home at the time of the slaying on Oct. 27, 2010.

After the woman's death, Stewart initially had custody of all five of her children.

The indictment filed by prosecutors states Stewart raped the boy both before and after her death.

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

According to the indictment, the rapes took place between March 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2010,

If convicted, Stewart could face a minimum of 25 years in prison.

Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman will hear Stewart's case. Stewart has been in the Hamilton County Jail on a $40,000 bond since his Oct. 21, 2011, arrest.

Mary Ann Green, public defender, has been appointed as his counsel. When contacted in jail, Stewart declined to be interviewed.

Stewart previously spoke with the Times Free Press nearly a year ago, when the boy's mother was buried in February. He said the children -- a 16-year-old girl, 15-year-old girl, 11-year-old boy, 7-year-old boy and the infant girl -- were removed from his care by Tennessee Department of Children's Services in December 2010. He said he didn't know why the children were taken from him and placed in foster homes.

"Ever since [her death] I have fought for her -- done what I know is right. Fought for the kids and protecting them. I haven't stopped," he said. "I know the boys want to be with their daddy."

The children referred to Stewart as "Uncle Brad" and he referred to himself as their father during the interview after the woman's death. Her five children have three different fathers, but Stewart is not one of them.

OTHER ALLEGATIONS

This isn't the first time Stewart has faced allegations of sex acts with a child.

The mother of the boy was by Stewart's side in July 2009 when a jury in Anderson, Ind., found him not guilty on one count of child molestation involving a 4-year-old boy belonging to another woman.

In last year's interview, Stewart said he began dating the woman a couple of months after her husband's arrest in Indiana in 2007.

Her ex-husband was convicted of child molestation and attempted child molestation in 2008 and is in prison in Indiana. His projected release is set for 2029, according to Indiana Department of Correction records.

Stewart said he and the woman planned to start a new life together and that she moved from Indiana to Tennessee to be with him. She arrived a few months before she was killed.

"I think she wanted a new life with me and the kids. She always told me, 'You're the love of my life.' She didn't want anyone else," he said.

Stewart said the two dated until 2009, then remained close friends afterward. Before moving to Chattanooga, the woman worked as a member of the medical staff at a corrections facility in Pendleton, Ind. During that time, she fell in love with a prisoner.

She eventually became pregnant with his baby and had the youngest child.

Stewart admitted he was disappointed when she became pregnant with another man's baby.

"I was kind of discouraged," he said.

Regardless, they were talking about working it out and moving forward with their relationship, he said.

Police questioned Stewart after the woman's death, but he was cleared of any involvement when investigators confirmed that he was at work when she was killed.

Chattanooga investigators said the woman's homicide case remains active. Various pieces of evidence continue to be submitted to a crime lab, police say, and they're awaiting the results.

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