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Delaware doctor indicted in child sex abuse scandal

8:44 PM, Feb 22, 2010   |    comments
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By RANDALL CHASE, Associated Press Writer

DOVER, DE (AP) -- A Delaware grand jury returned a sweeping indictment Monday against a pediatrician accused of serial molestation in what could be one of the worst child sex abuse cases in the nation's history.

The 160-page indictment returned by a Sussex County grand jury charges Dr. Earl Bradley of Lewes with 471 counts of sexual crimes against 103 children.

Attorney General Beau Biden said all of the alleged victims, including one boy, were caught on more than 13 hours of video recordings, some dating to 1998, that were seized from Bradley's office and home.

"The charges in this indictment are unique in the history of the state of Delaware, as far as I can tell," he said.

"These were crimes committed against the most vulnerable among us -- those without voices," Biden added as tears welled in his eyes and he paused to collect himself.

Biden said that while there have been other cases around the country involving multiple victims, "I know of no other that has this many victims."

The charges against Bradley include rape, sexual exploitation of a child, unlawful sexual contact, continuous sexual abuse of a child, assault and reckless endangering.

Bradley, who was arrested in December and initially charged with 29 felony counts for allegedly abusing nine children, is being held with bail set at $2.9 million. His medical license was permanently revoked by the state Board of Medical Practice last week.

Bradley's attorney, Eugene Maurer, said he had not read the indictment but was not surprised by the allegations.

"I'm sure they have their reasons for including all these different victims in this indictment," said Maurer, noting that under state law, a single conviction of rape would be enough to put Bradley behind bars for life.

Maurer added that the "real battleground" in the case will be Bradley's mental state, not what is seen on the videotapes or alleged in the indictment.

The indictment alleges Bradley was videotaping his sexual exploitation of patients as far back as December 1998. Many victims were assaulted repeatedly, some on consecutive days, according to the indictment, which alleges that one girl was raped more than a dozen times over a period that lasted more than a year.

Authorities would not say whether they think Bradley had videotaped all of his alleged assaults or whether there may be more victims.

"I expect that we will add to this indictment with new charges over the coming months," Biden said.

He encouraged parents and victims of Bradley, "regardless of age or gender," to contact prosecutors, who have sent out about 3,100 letters to Bradley's patients and set up an office in Lewes to handle complaints and direct potential victims and their families to counseling and other services.

"I know that today's indictment will reopen painful wounds," he said.

Sussex County prosecutor Paula Ryan declined to say how many alleged victims seen on videotape have been identified by name, or to provide an age range. The indictment refers to each alleged victim only as "Jane Doe" or "John Doe."

After years of suspicions among parents and questions about his strange behavior from colleagues, Bradley was arrested after a 2-year-old girl told her mother that the doctor hurt her in December when he took her to a basement room of his office after an exam.

The case has shocked the close-knit coastal community of Lewes and the central Delaware town of Milford, where Bradley closed an office in 2005 after police investigated him.

While prosecutors allege regular and repeated abuse by Bradley, the indictment contains a gap of more than a year, from October 2004 to June 2006, in which no alleged crimes are listed.

Biden and Gov. Jack Markell have ordered reviews to determine whether doctors, hospitals, state agencies or law enforcement authorities failed to comply with a state law that requires all such entities to report to the medical licensing board in writing within 30 days if they believe a doctor is or "may be" guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Biden said Monday that those investigations are aimed at determining "how this physician could lurk in our midst for as long as he did."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Associated Press

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