Following a one-day trial, a Delaware judge is now reviewing testimony and contested video evidence in the case of a former pediatrician charged with sexually abusing dozens of his young patients.
Doctor Earl Bradley’s legal team presented no case and had no questions for prosecution witnesses during his day in court in Georgetown. A month ago, Bradley waived his right to a jury trial. The defense is already looking ahead to the appeal level at which it will challenge the admissability of digital video evidence seized from buildings at Bradley’s office complex in Lewes at the time of his arrest in December 2009.
Bradley’s public defenders stipulated to allow the case to proceed under a superceding indictment that consolidated 471 counts into 24 criminal counts: 14 counts of rape, five counts of assault, and five counts of sexual explointation of a child.
During the reading of the indictment, it was disclosed that the mother of one of the alleged victims was employed by Bradley’s practice.
Detective Thomas Elliott, under questioning from Sussex County Prosecutor Paula Ryan, talked about how the case against Bradley developed. Elliott said police learned of a 2005 investigation by Milford Police into complaints that Bradley was overaffectionate with child patients. Criminal charges were not filed at that time. There was also prior interest in Bradley in 2008 after three complaints were received about Bradley’s conduct in the exam room.
It was in December 2009, when a child brought up Bradley’s behavior to a parent, when the case truly began to escalate. The child was examined in a basement without a parent present, and a physical examination later showed injuries indicating possible sexual abuse.
Word spread quickly of Bradley’s arrest, and “the phones just immediately started ringing off the hook,” according to Elliott. He also testified about the seizure of medical records and electronic evidence from a group of buildings at Bradley’s BayBees office, and efforts to match children seen on digital videos with photos provided by their parents.
Those videos, how they were obtained and what was on them was the focus of testimony from Detective Scott Garland of the Delaware State Police High-Tech Crimes Unit.
“The rapes were violent and brutal,” Garland said. “The violence we were seeing was significant, beyond anything I had seen. Nothing prepared me for it.”
Garland described a meticulous system Bradley used to save and identify videotaped sexual encounters between himself and the children, as well as measures he appared to take to conceal the crimes from parents.
Although a couple of the alleged victims were 14 years old and some were of elementary school age, Garland said it was apparent from the videos that Bradley had “a preference for toddlers.”
During Garland’s testimony, several people in court wept and some fled the courtroom.
Among some of the details:
-Bradley, according to Garland, included the faces of his young victims on the videos.
-The defendant gained the trust of parents by offering to bring children downstairs for a Popsicle to relieve the child’s pain, when in fact he would use that time to record sex crimes on video.
-Some children choked or passed out during the assaults. “We stopped hearing breaths, we stopped hearing crying,” Garland testified.
-Garland said at one point, he himself shouted at the computer screen as he was reviewing one of the videos: “let her up.”
-During one assault on video, Garland said Bradley told the limp victim, “wake up, wake up” and administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Then, he said “let’s go get a Popsicle.”
According to the state, 70 children captured on videos seized at Bradley’s office were identified. 16 youngsters were never positively identified.
Bradley, his hair long and with a full beard, was dressed in a gray Department of Correction suit and sat quietly and still during the proceedings. The 58-year-old defendant only spoke when answering a few questions from Judge William Carpenter at the beginning, and at the end when he said he did not wish to testify.
Carpenter did not say how long it would be before he would announce a verdict, and kept a gag order in effect that prohibits participants in the case from speaking to the media.