Bradley awaits judge's verdict in child sex-abuse case


Following just one day of trial, on June 7, former Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley on Wednesday awaited the ruling of Delaware Superior Judge William Carpenter Jr. on charges of rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation of former patients.

Bradley waived his right to a trial by jury earlier this month and was originally indicted on 471 counts, but on Tuesday the charges were consolidated. An amended list of charges superseding the indictment by the Grand Jury charged Bradley with 24 counts — 14 counts of rape in the first-degree, five counts of assault in the second degree and five counts of sexual exploitation of a child.

Approximately 40 people sat in the gallery during the single day of testimony on Tuesday. Many cried throughout the difficult testimony. Some even walked out at certain points. A closed-circuit video feed was also sent to a separate room, where the family members of alleged victims could watch the proceedings in privacy.

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden sat in the front row, behind the prosecution, for the entire day but declined to comment on the case, as a gag order has been issued for all those involved.

Bradley waived his right to testify, and his defense counsel, Public Defender Dean Johnson, did not call any witnesses or cross-examine any of the witnesses called by Deputy Attorney General Paula Ryan.

Johnson did, however, ask the court to note that he and his client continued to object to inclusion of video evidence.

“Obviously, we object to the submission of the video,” he said. “It’s a continued objection.”

The State only called two witnesses – both Delaware State Police detectives – to the stand, to testify as to the evidence recovered.

Detective Thomas Elliott – who at the time of Bradley’s arrest worked in the Major Crimes Unit – testified that there had been multiple concerns expressed and complaints made related to Bradley during his time as a pediatrician. One of those complaints alleged that a young child had been physically restrained during a vaginal examination; another noted that Bradley had vaginally examined a patient who was in his office for a consultation about attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In April of 2005, the Milford Police Department began an investigation of Bradley, after a concerned parent reported to them that Bradley was overly affectionate with the children and would hug, hold and kiss them. No charges related to the investigation were ever filed, as their investigation was still ongoing when Bradley was arrested in 2009 as a result of a separate complaint.

Elliottt went on to testify that, in early December of 2009, a parent had reported Bradley to police after their young child had told her that the doctor had stuck his hand down her diaper in the basement of his medical office. Following a physical exam of the child, an injury was found that was determined could be a sign of sexual abuse.

That claim led to Bradley’s first arrest, on Dec. 16, 2009, when a search of his office was executed, as well. On Dec. 17, the Delaware State Police’s High Technology Crimes Unit reviewed electronic evidence that they categorized as child pornography. A new warrant for Bradley’s arrest was issued, and he was taken into custody again, having made bail previously, on Dec. 18.

The principal witness for the prosecution was High Technology Crimes Unit (HTCU) Detective Scott Garland, who had viewed more than 13 hours of video of alleged rapes and assaults by Bradley on 86 different children, with one child appearing in four separate videos recorded on separate occasions.

Garland said that Bradley had named his video files to correspond to seasons, such as “Summer Best” and “January Break,” which had helped the HTCU narrow down which children were in the videos, by referencing medical and appointment records.

A number of recording devices were obtained, including camera pens, which appeared to be fountain pens but actually contained a hidden camera that Garland said Bradley would take into exams with him and sometimes have with him during examinations.

He testified that there were also other videos, filmed without parents present, in which Bradley was physically more forceful with children. Many of the alleged attacks took place in an outbuilding where Bradley kept a desk, computer and an overstuffed couch.

Some of the video evidence, Garland said, showed Bradley forcing children to perform oral sex on him. Some of the evidence, he said, showed the children losing consciousness, as they were no longer struggling to get away and their breathing was no longer audible, as well as “blood-curdling screams.” In five of the videos, Garland testified, Bradley then allegedly lifted the children by their heads and threw them about 4 feet, onto his couch.

“The violence we were seeing was significant. In fact, I was not prepared for it,” said Garland. “It is a violet, brutal, forced attack.”

Garland also testified that Bradley “groomed” parents to accept him leaving the room with their children, by making a normal routine of carrying the children off alone to get “rewards,” such as a toy or ice pops.

A number of his young patients were receiving the drug Rocephin, a medication he would give in a series of three shots. Bradley allegedly told parents that the sugar from the treats would help relieve the pain of the shots and, under that pretense, take the children to get one.

He said that the ice pops were a “recurring theme,” and that in many of the videos where Bradley is allegedly forcing the children to perform oral sex on him, ice pops, as well as adhesive bandages on the children’s inner thighs, were visible. His assault would be so brutal, Garland said, that in some cases blood was produced from the victims’ mouths. Bradley, he testified, would rub the ice pops around the outside of the children’s mouths, to help disguise what had just occurred.

Garland, who has worked on child pornography cases on the national level, said that, in most cases, an offender would conceal from the video camera both their face and the face of their victim, in order to make identification difficult. However, Bradley did not do the same, he said.

“The defendant goes out of his way to make sure his face and the child’s face and anatomy is in the video,” Garland said.

Garland testified that the average age of Bradley’s alleged victims was 3.08 years, which included two 14-year old victims and three others who were elementary school- and junior high-age.

“There does appear to be a preference for toddlers,” he said, noting that the forced attacks were on those who had extremely limited verbal skills.

“There was nothing that prepared me for this. I was yelling at the computer screen to ‘let her up,’” Garland said. “These rapes were violent and brutal… It was like nothing I had ever seen before.”

Carpenter said on Tuesday that he would alert counsel when he was prepared to render his verdict. No date was set for his announcement. When a verdict is rendered, the Coastal Point will post it to our Web site at www.coastalpoint.com, as well as on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coastalpoint and on Twitter, @coastalpoint.