GLENS FALLS - A Warren County probation officer and local youth minister, who formerly worked as a child protective services caseworker, was arrested Tuesday on charges he had improper sexual contact with two underage boys.
Bradford T. Overton, 30, of 10 Nelson St., Apt. 4, Glens Falls, faces four misdemeanor charges - two counts each of forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child - for allegedly having sexual contact with 15- and 16-year-old boys at his home over the summer, police said.
According to court records, he met the teens while serving as a volunteer youth minister for New Hope Community Church.
Overton has worked as a probation officer, handling a caseload of juvenile offenders for the past six months. Before that, he was a Child Protective Services caseworker for the Warren County Department of Social Services, police said.
Neither of the victims came in contact with him through his county employment, police said.
Warren County Probation Director Robert Iusi said Overton was placed on paid "administrative leave" Tuesday pending an investigation by county officials. That investigation will include efforts to determine whether he had any improper contact with children while working for the county, Iusi said.
The police investigation began Monday night after State Police were notified after a call was made to the state child abuse hot line, said State Police Senior Investigator Bud York.
State Police Investigator Warren Law determined the alleged crimes happened in Glens Falls, and he worked with Glens Falls Police Detective Sgt. Paul Frettoloso before Overton was arrested Tuesday afternoon.
In signed affidavits to police, the boys both said Overton fondled their bare buttocks, one in June, the other in August. One wrote that Overton reached under his shorts to fondle him, while the other told police Overton kissed him on the neck.
The 16-year-old told police he slept over at Overton's home 15 to 20 times over the years.
"Brad would try to get me to sleep with him in bed almost every time I stayed with him," the teen told police, according to the statement. "One night I was sleeping in the chair and he tried to get in the chair and sleep with me, but I pushed him out."
The court file contained a two-paragraph, handwritten statement that appeared to be signed by Overton in which he acknowledged he touched the boys' buttocks, but said he didn't remember when.
Frettoloso said a third boy who said he had physical contact with Overton had also been interviewed by police, but the actions did not rise to the level of criminal charges.
Overton did not speak during his arraignment in Glens Falls City Court, other than to ask police to remove a reporter from court and to tell Judge Richard Tarantino he planned to hire a lawyer. He would not discuss the case with a reporter as he left court.
Tarantino released him on his own recognizance pending further court action Dec. 19.
Warren County Social Services Commissioner Robert Phelps did not return a phone call for comment Tuesday.
The Rev. Robbie Lankford, pastor of New Hope Community Church, called Overton a "volunteer youth leader" and said he would no longer be allowed to take part in church activities. He said the church was fully cooperating with the police investigation.
"The ministry purpose of our church family is to promote healing and wholeness for all of those involved in this incident," he wrote in a prepared statement. "We will pray and work towards this end."
Each of the misdemeanor charges is punishable by up to a year in Warren County Jail.
Frettoloso said it does not appear felony charges are warranted in the case at this point, but the investigation was continuing.
Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan said she could not discuss the case because her office plans to ask for a special prosecutor in light of the fact that prosecutors work closely with the Probation Department.