The results of an investigation by the Delaware Department of Justice shows a communication failure that allowed Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley to continue practicing even though there had been numerous allegations of misconduct against him.
An investigation by the Delaware Department of Justice shows a communication failure that allowed Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley to continue practicing even though there had been numerous allegations of misconduct against him.
The report was released by Attorney General Beau Biden’s office, even though Biden is still in the hospital recovering from last week’s stroke. Chief Deputy Attorney General Charles Butler says Biden had signed off on the report before he was hospitalized, and the only changes that were made by staff after his stroke were corrections in spelling or punctuation.
Butler says a number of medical professionals, health care groups, and state agencies failed to properly address concerns about Bradley’s actions that were presented. Some of those concerns came from parents of patients. Like the mother who reported to Milford Police that her daughter had been inappropriately kissed by Bradley. Butler says in that case, Milford PD and the state Department of Justice failed to communicate properly. “This is partly a problem of the statue, and partly a problem of a lack of clear policies and procedures within the law enforcement community about who is going to make what report.” One of the report’s recommendations calls for “all entities and state agencies to implement organization-wide policies pertaining to the reporting of unprofessional conduct by medical professionals.”
The report also contains a letter sent by Bradley’s sister, Lynda Barnes, to the Medical Society of Delaware in 2004 and resent to the Milford PD in 2005. Barnes, who had worked in her brother’s office, warned in her letter that Bradley needed a psychiatric and medical evaluation because “there has been a notable deterioration in Dr. Bradley’s ability to handle his affairs, both personal and professional.” Her letter, part of which was lost when it was faxed to the Medical Society, also details Bradley’s poor hygiene and sloppy record keeping. She also expressed her fear that he could face “a very public collapse or prosecution by parents.” But, according to the Department of Justice report,the Medical Society did not make a report to the Board of Medical Practice concerning the allegations.
His sister’s letter was not the only time someone tried to warn authorities of Bradley alleged misconduct. Before Bradley moved to Delaware, a Philadelphia mother reported to police that Bradley abused her daughter after she had been examined. The report found that the allegations were investigated by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional Occupational Affairs, which decided not to prosecute in 1995. Because Pennsylvania officials decided to drop the case, their Delaware counterparts decided not to look into the allegations further, because they would not be able to investigate the case outside their jurisdiction within the state borders. Despite the allegations, Bradley was appointed to Beebe Medical Center’s Pediatric Service in 1994, just a week and a half after the allegations in Pennsylvania were reported.
Butler says the report’s 28 recommendations will be presented to state lawmakers this week, with the hopes of turning them into legislation that could be acted on before the end of the General Assembly’s session on June 30th. “The goal of all this effort and exercise has been and will continue to be the protection of children and the safety of kids. That’s what we’re focused on, that’s what the report is focused on, that’s what we believe the General Assembly and the Governor’s office are going to focus on as a result of the recommendations.”
The full Department of Justice report can be found on the department’s website attorneygeneral.delaware.gov. The office has also posted the executive summary and exhibits, which includes the letter sent by Bradley’s sister and a letter sent by the Philadelphia mother accusing Bradley of abusing her daughter in Pennsylvania back in 1994.
The Department of Justice report comes just a week after an independent investigation commissioned by Governor Jack Markell and put together by Widener Law Dean Linda Ammons. Ammons talked to WHYY last week about her investigation and recommendations. You can see the interview on WHYY.com: Part 1 and Part 2.