Skip to main content

Broadbent: One Batavia family learning the hard way the damage bath salts can do

By Howard B. Owens

Up until Friday, Melissa Broadbent thought her brother Bradley was really turning his life around.

He had a job, he was trying to do the best he could by his son, within the limits of court orders and the demands of the child's mother.

Then, seemingly overnight, and just three months removed from his last prison term, Bradley Broadbent discovered "Amped," a form of bath salts that is reportedly sold at a shop in Batavia.

"Previous to that day, he was doing well for himself," Melissa said. "He worked in a flower shop, he gained better employment, he was trying to become a good member of society."

Last Friday, Bradley thrust himself into local headlines when he climbed atop the roof of a home on Hutchins Street and then began jumping from roof to roof, yelling something about the police being after him.

He was taken by Mercy EMS to UMMC for evaluation, but that night, Bradley reportedly fled the hospital and went to his ex-wife's house on Tracy Avenue and entered her home.

That action led to a charge of burglary in the second degree.

"I don't believe anybody should be selling it," Melissa said. "For some people it’s a high, but for other people something doesn’t quite click and it’s not safe to us and the rest of the world."

If convicted of the burglary charge, it would be Bradley's third strike and mean from 20 years to life in prison.

And that's what has Melissa Broadbent most concerned.

She thinks the system has failed her brother. And the failure of the system, she said, was never more apparent than it was on Friday.

Melissa said when she came across Bradley that morning, she could tell he was high and learned from a friend that he had allegedly ingested bath salts, a substance for which she had no real prior knowledge.

She said she tried contacting her brother's parole officer, but he was on vacation and nobody from the parole office "bothered," as she put it, to call her back.

A call back and an effort to pick him up might have meant the entire Friday would have gone completely different for her brother, she said.

Then, after her brother was taken to UMMC, Melissa wonders why he was lightly restrained at the hospital. Melissa believes he should have been shackled by handcuffs so he couldn't escape until he came down off his high.

Then there's the issue of the burglary charge for entering his ex-wife's home.

"She was leaving a key in the mailbox for him," Broadbent said. "How was he supposed to know he wasn’t supposed to come in that day?"

Now that Melissa has gotten a quick personal and Google-search lesson in bath salts, she is perplexed why the substance is so easily available in Batavia and why anybody in good conscience would sell the substance to another human being.

"There's a chemical in it, a specific chemical, that makes you come out of your element and makes you do things you would not normally do," Melissa said. "It is not safe, not for anybody, not for the person doing it and nor for the person walking down the street.

"There's no way to test for it. People who want to find a mental escape, they're going to do it because it's legal and it's so easy to get. It needs to come off the street before somebody dies."

Bradley Broadbent was first arrested, she said, on a robbery charge when he was 16. He and a partner stole one dollar from a store and Broadbent spent eight years in prison.

When he came out, Melissa said, he was a changed person. He was anti-social, didn't know how to interact with people, distrusted everyone and was hostile to people he met for the first time.

The family wanted to help him, they said, so in the hope of getting him into treatment, they provided information to law enforcement that led to his arrest.  Rather than receiving treatment, however, she said Broadbent was sent back to prison.

"That didn't help him at all," she said. "That made him worse."

Now, with a possible third strike, Melissa is worried the system will once again come down hard on him and send him to prison for the rest of his life.

She hopes, somehow, someway, the system will do better than that by her brother.

"He is in need of mental care," Melissa said. "We know him. The people who know him, know he needs that. The system doesn’t know him. They don’t know he needs that and the system doesn’t care. That’s what I would like to see happen. My brother needs mental care. He needs help mentally. He doesn't know how to handle himself emotionally or mentally."

She isn't of a mind to sugarcoat any of the things Bradley has been accused of doing in the past. She just wants the best outcome for her brother.

"I don’t defend anything my brother has ever done," she said. "If he’s wrong, he’s wrong."

The rapid lessons in bath salts has made her very afraid of what the presence of the substance means for Batavia. She's worried -- more certain -- that not enough will be done soon enough about bath salts.

"It seems nothing ever gets done until it's the absolute worst and then people open their eyes and do something," she said.

Nicole Lang, the mother of another person whose life is allegedly being harmed by bath salts has said she's ready to set up a picket and a protest of a local shop allegedly selling the now controlled substance.

"I’m with her," Melissa said. "I’m all with her. The people selling this stuff, they’re not dealing with the consequences. Yet the people who love their family are the people who have been tainted by the effects of it."

Lincoln DeCoursey

These synthesized drugs attract parolees precisely because they're not detected via a routine drug screen. The beat-the-system attitude is nothing new but unfortunately people struggling to re-enter society are just not prepared to successfully negotiate this stuff.

The cat-and-mouse game with these head shops is really getting old. The "wink-wink nod-nod" in terms of selling a water bong to some community college kid is one thing. But whatever this "bath salts" stuff is - it's time to deal with it on the major felony level, not via some label law violation.

Jul 12, 2012, 12:45am Permalink
Amanda Rumble

People themselves need to have personal responsibility as well. I'm saying this as a wife of a current parolee and addict so I know how it feels to have someone very close to me involved with the system. He knows there are conditions he has to abide by on parole and they include not ingesting any substances to get high or breaking any laws. It's a privilege to get out on parole and re-enter society before the sentence has been completed. The situation with bath salts definitely deserves attention, but when an individual willingly consumes something they believe is going to get them high "legally", what can you expect to happen?

Jul 12, 2012, 7:09am Permalink
Irene Will

You can't - and even the SYSTEM can't - help somebody unless they want to HELP THEMSELVES. There ARE places to go for help - - instead of walking into the head shop and buying "bath salts", these people could just as easily walk into GCASA - or go to a SHRINK - or find a group like narc-anon and go to a meeting or even go to their FAMILY and say " I'm not handling things well today, I want to get high - - please help me. " But they don't. They go GET stuff to get HIGH. So really, it's NOT The System - or GCASA - or the family that failed. It's the PERSON THEMSELF that failed THEMSELF. You can't save people from themselves. And you can't BLAME everyone or ANYONE ELSE for what THEY CHOOSE to do. There ARE other CHOICES other than getting high. There are ways to WORK through your problems. These people know that. They just want to take the EASY way out - get high and FORGET their problems. Of course, it doesn't work - the problems are still there - and are probably worse - when they come down. Again - until THEY ASK FOR HELP and are willing to WORK on THEMSELVES, there is no agency, no person, NOTHING that will help these people.

Jul 12, 2012, 8:39am Permalink
Doug Yeomans

I find it difficult to believe that a 16 year old boy would go to prison for 8 years because he stole one dollar from a store. Something makes no sense there.

Just because her brother's parole officer was on vacation, that doesn't excuse her brother from doing stupid things. It's not the parole department's fault that her brother chose to ingest bath salts.

I get tired of hearing people lament about how the system "let them down." I do feel, however, that the system does need to change in regard to treatment VS incarceration when it comes to mental illness and addiction. Prisons are full of warehoused, mentally ill people who don't get the treatment they need.

At some point, though, people ultimately have to be held accountable for the things they willfully do. Like Amanda just said, when someone is on parole, there are rules to follow. Obey those rules and everything is copacetic. Break the rules and you go back to jail.

Jul 12, 2012, 9:00am Permalink
lucie griffis

As parent who has had to fight for help for her son I can understand. Some things may not make sense to others. And yes we need to hold them accountable after they turn into adults and even before that. Some people need to realize there are a few loop holes in the system in New York State though. As a parent of a child with struggles at 14 and 15 there were very little services, at 16 you can not make them go or accept treatment and at 17 you can not make them live in your house they are an adult in the laws eyes, yet you are still legally responsible until 18. It is very hard for a family with a child or family member who has addictions or mental health issues and them when they are an adult you are suppose to love them unconditionally yet it really reeks havoc on you trying to help them. You are correct they do those drugs because they do not show on toxis. Very sad situation overall. Doug there is mental health services in jail. They just have to sign up to get them.

Jul 12, 2012, 9:23am Permalink
Debra Nanni

I totally agree with that Doug. More often than not, the same people who complain, complain, complain about TOO MUCH government intervention in their lives, are the same ones to cry that the "SYSTEM" aka government, "LET THEM DOWN". I can see that in the case of a child , shuffled through the system after being abused or neglected. THERE might be an argument, but not in the case of an adult who repeatedly makes a choice to destroy their lives or portions of it. Once again, enough cannot be said for personal responsibility.

Jul 12, 2012, 9:29am Permalink
Deborah Pappalardo

The fact that the powers that be allow these irresponsible people (the ones who sell these bath salts and the synthetic forms of marijuana) open head shops in the city of Batavia completely boggles my mind. Especially since they wouldn't allow Terry Platt to buy my wife's building on Swan Street because (as Rosemary Christian stated) having a rooming house there might have a negative effect on the neighborhood. But, this 420 Emporium is right across the street from a home owned by my Mother-in-Law which she is trying to sell. Brilliant. Time and time again, Batavia finds ways to make me glad that I don't live in their city anymore.

Jul 12, 2012, 9:35am Permalink
Heidi Baylor

Based on the harsh and judgmental comments, it's obvious that we as a society have a long way to go before accepting drug abuse and mental illness for the serious diseases that they are. What a shame that you can be so quick to assume that they have enough control under the influence of a mind altering drug to even make a "responsible decision".

Jul 12, 2012, 9:49am Permalink
lucie griffis

Heidi I agree with you. Many people who use those drugs are self medicating themselves. Unfortunately you are correct that society does not understand. They are adults and are accountable for their actions but sometimes people are sick or have addictions.

Jul 12, 2012, 10:07am Permalink
JoAnne Rock

Debra, I couldn't disagree with you more. The people that complain, complain, complain about too much government intervention in their lives are generally the ones that believe that people have a constitutional right to make stupid decisions if they only affect themselves. You're statement, that the government "let them down" is the antithesis to those that believe in personal freedom and less government intervention.

I would agree that when one becomes an adult, it is a matter of personal responsibility and they must accept the consequences of their actions.

In the case of a minor child, however, that makes stupid decisions to take drugs leading to addiction; the system IS inadequate. The fact is, a parent does not have the power, through due process or otherwise, to involuntarily commit a minor child to drug rehab.

We grant government the authority to take away the personal freedoms of those that break the law and are a threat to the community; yet parents do not have the authority to take away the personal freedom of their child when their behavior is leading them into a downward spiral.

Jul 12, 2012, 11:13am Permalink
Kyle Couchman

Doug in a way they are actually both valid reasons AND excuses. I have friends I have nursed through addiction, there is some component of helplessness due to this. But since they arent mentally handicapped enough to be forced into treatment and usually dont accept there is a problem. It takes "hitting bottom" for them to ask for help. My concern is the cost to the community through the results of the addict's actions. While I HATE to give the Govt any more kind of power due to their willingness to abuse it, there should be some criteria to get these people help. Maybe a different kind of prison or incarceration for those who have obviously lost control but havent done anything yet to warrant forcing them to treatment. This idea hasn't coelesced fully but maybe a bootcamp style short term "incarceration" might work to open their eyes to this. But truly you cant help soemone with these issues until they themselves realize they need help.

Heidi and Lucie do have the right idea but we need to discover a way that opens ther eyes, and helps build their self esteem to where they become members of the community again. Probably stepping into the role of helping others out of the vicious circle of addiction.

Jul 12, 2012, 11:41am Permalink
Heidi Baylor

@Doug - I'm not that young actually, 45 is old to some and young to others.

I just know that many are quick to assume that anyone over the age of 18 should be able to make good choices and darned if the don't, and get addicted to a drug that can cause mind altering behavior our society as a "whole" (not everyone) is so quick to jump on a message board somewhere in response to an article and slam them to the ground.

Do I agree that we should be accountable for our actions..yes.
Do I agree that there is a rampant drug problem...yes.

What I don't agree with is how quickly a conclusion can be made about someones life just on a few paragraphs printed by the media.

PS: I do not know anyone in this article.

Jul 12, 2012, 2:42pm Permalink
scott williams

@ Doug I believe someone is suing MacDonald s already for being fat.
@Deborah I think what the city was saying about backhoes being turned into a rooming house was that the residents don't want it because historically trouble comes from all the rooming houses in batavia so they found a legal way to stop it in it's tracks. I personally agree with that decision is it good business probably not and not capitalistic either. I do not believe however your relatives house not being sold is suffering from the location of this store because if you sit there and watch someone go into this place you don't know why their there and they don't appear to be jumping around on roofs out front. Please don't speak bad about the city of Batavia as they are not at fault in this situation they have to allow the business to run if it's legal, surely you know that as a former owner of backhoes you know that many people didn't like your bar but you were allowed by the city to operate within the parameters of the law. Will the city take heed of your thoughts on allowing a business ( that not everyone likes) to open across the street from a house for sale probably not because they can't. Knowing that these dirtbag's get to sell this stuff legally does piss everyone off but it isn't the city's fault.

Jul 12, 2012, 4:21pm Permalink
Frank Bartholomew

Lucie, I can't for the life of me understand how some type of services weren't offered to you and your child.
I got more help than I wanted after a school teacher illegally searched through my sons phone and found a picture of a bong on it. Then he admitted to trying pot, they got the probation dept. involved, Gcasa, mental health, I had help coming out of my ears, and I never asked for any of it, did you ever ask?

Jul 12, 2012, 5:07pm Permalink
John Roach

We get that have an issue with alcohol sales. But alcohol is legal, is properly labeled with the ingredients, and if used in moderation, safe for human consumption.

Jul 12, 2012, 5:14pm Permalink
Beth Kinsley

John brings up a good point. Are these bath salts labelled as bath salts? What would happen if you actually took a bath in them? Can it be absorbed through the skin or mucous membranes?

Jul 12, 2012, 5:17pm Permalink
Daniel Jones

Comparing alcohol to bath salts is like comparing a Ford Fusion to a 16 wheeler. Yes they're both vehicles, but being able to drive a car doesn't mean you can drive a semi. They just are not safe for human consumption.

Jul 12, 2012, 5:33pm Permalink
Frank Bartholomew

Do you folks also believe the alcohol industry willfully placed warnings on their products, or were they forced to do so by our govt.
Dan, have you ever been up close and in person with an alcoholic. its the same damn truck Dan. Have you ever watched an alcoholic die from years of alcohol abuse, I have, and I've seen it too many times, so don't pass that sort of logic to me, drugs are drugs, when abused they all can kill. Alcohol is a slow painful death that can take 20 - 30 years to finish off its victims.
John, as of today, the salts are just as legal as alcohol, what people do with them is their business, not mine not yours, it is their choice. The govt., and anyone who opposses ones personal choice is in my opinion, a pure hypocrit if, they support alcohol use and opposse other drug use.
Heres another example of how stupid it is to try and govern what people ingest, digest, snort, swallow, drink, use,blah,blah, blah.Why do they use drugs to treat addicts and alcoholics, but never use alcohol to treat symptoms of either abuse. Isn't methadone synthetic heroin? Why is it ok to use alcohol without a prescription?, any other drug with the same potential as alcohol would/should be considered a contolled substance.
I'm not pro spice or salt, I am pro choice, as well as holding one accountable for their actions.
I absolutley can not use alcohol, so each and every day of sobriety I think of what alchol abuse is, how it is looked at by society, and the chaos that is always present with alcohol abuse.
It is my decision to not use alcohol, regardless of its legal status, stop the double standard.

Jul 12, 2012, 9:08pm Permalink

Authentically Local