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Prosecutor, mother named in civil suit filed by victims of convicted child rapist

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By John Balch

News-Leader staff

Prosecutor Jana Bradford and her mother have been implicated in a civil lawsuit filed in Clark County by the victims of convicted serial child rapist Barry Alan Walker of Glenwood.

The lawsuit, originally filed Oct. 25, 2022 and amended Nov. 15, 2022 to add more plaintiffs, was amended a second time on Feb. 15 to include Bradford and Joyce Perser, Bradford’s mother and Walker’s sister, as defendants.

Bradford and Perser are listed along with other defendants Barry Walker, his brother Bryce Walker, his longtime girlfriend Lori Cogburn and his property manager Brandy Cox, as well as two of Barry Walker’s businesses: All Pro Contracting, Inc., and Bear Lake Property Investments, LLC.

Eleven of Walker’s victims are the current plaintiffs with some listed as being represented by an adult due to their minor status. They are seeking millions of dollars from Walker’s businesses that they claimed were used by Walker to “finance his deviate sexual desires.”

Once Walker was caught and in the Pike County jail, he predicted civil lawsuits against him and the need to secure his finances against those lawsuits, as evident in jailhouse recordings between him and his brother. The lawsuit claims Walker then began “scheming” with his brother “to hide assets, conduct unreported cash sales of assets” and transfer assets to other properties, then conceal the proceeds from sale – a move described in the lawsuit as “attempting to re-rape” the victims.

In October 2022, Walker plead guilty in both Pike and Clark counties to 32 counts of rape; 27 counts of computer exploitation of a child; 28 counts of producing, directing or promoting a sexual performance by a child; 28 counts of engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for use in visual print medium; one count of second-degree sexual assault; one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute; one count of possession of firearms by a certain person; and one count of possessing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child.

Walker’s victim list totaled 31. Investigators uncovered troves of evidence in the case. Walker had video recorded and photographed each of his rapes and cataloged the crimes using the victims’ first names to index the files on hard drives. He often drugged his young victims with sleep aids and many times committed the crimes in the presence of other children.

Walker was sentenced to multiple consecutive life sentences in both counties for what Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Turner called a “path of destruction” that lasted 25 years.

The civil lawsuit that Walker predicted from behind bars alleges his family and associates failed to notify authorities about Walker’s obvious issues and despite knowing about his 2000 conviction for sexual abuse of an eight-year-old girl in Sebastian County. Walker, a former family physician, was sentenced to five years in the state prison for that offense, ordered to register as sex offender and lost his medical license.

In 2001, Walker was granted parole following an assessment that determined what he needed to do to “reduce the risk of re-offending.” Walker returned to near his home in Glenwood and, according to case files, gradually stopped following the recommendations of the assessment and began to drink alcohol and being alone with prepubescent females.

The lawsuit claims all the defendants knew Walker had relapsed but did not report his behavior despite them all regularly seeing Walker with young females in his truck or riding horses or spending the night at his home.

The lawsuit also contends Walker’s behavior had been discussed at a weekly family meeting and that Bryce Walker and Bradford reportedly refused to leave their own young daughters alone with Barry or spend the night at his house.

“Unfortunately, neither Bryce Walker nor Jana Bradford took any steps to protect other prepubescent females from Barry Walker,” including his own.

It is noted in the lawsuit that “at all material times, Jana Bradford was a deputy prosecuting attorney in the Ninth West Judicial District of Arkansas and was a mandated reporter of child maltreatment” under state law. The suit also noted Bryce Walker, who is a public school employee, is also a mandated reporter of such treatment.

Bradford is being sued in her individual capacity only and is not being sued in her capacity as a former deputy prosecutor or as the current elected Ninth West prosecutor, according to case files.

The lawsuit further claims that between 2001 and 2022 many reports were made to law enforcement about Walker’s maltreatment of young females and that each defendant knew about the investigations, with Bradford said to have known “specific details” of each case. After his arrest for a case involving a four-year-old girl in 2014, the lawsuit said Walker’s family bonded him out of jail and “circled the wagons” to defend him and keep one of his businesses afloat.

Plaintiffs lay blame on all the defendants for coddling and enabling Walker’s conduct because he was a successful businessman “and the entire Walker family benefited from his success.” The suit contends from 2009 to 2022 many Walker family members and friends worked or volunteered at Walker’s businesses and they failed to report him to authorities “because he was a source of income to them.”

Bradford’s past efforts to defend Walker are mentioned in the lawsuit.

In 2004, Walker had a pardon request, filed by Bradford, denied by former governor Mike Huckabee. Bradford also attempted to have Walker removed from the state’s sex offender registry in 2018 but the petition failed and, according to the lawsuit, failed to mention his history and noted Walker was “not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others.”

“That allegation may well be the falsest claim made in a legal filing in the history of the State of Arkansas,” according to the lawsuit.

In April 2022, the lawsuit claims Walker had begun “messing with” two young females and that Cox and her father first informed Bryce and then Joyce Perser, who both allegedly said they could not report Barry before Bradford’s election date to become prosecutor, which she won in a May 2022 contested race.

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