Pediatrician Earl Bradley Accused of Raping Child Patients, Videotaping Acts

Dr. Earl Bradley may have molested a child as young as 3 months.

December 24, 2009, 12:35 PM

Dec. 24, 2009 — -- A popular Delaware pediatrician may have sexually assaulted more than 100 of his young patients and videotaped the acts in what officials are calling one of the largest sexual abuse cases in the state's history.

Dr. Earl Bradley, 56, is being held in the Vaughn Correctional Center on a $2.9 million cash bond after he was charged with 33 felony counts, including rape and sexual exploitation of a child, stemming from incidents at his Lewes, Del., practice, BayBees Pediatrics.

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden told that "this is a very very troubling case, and we here in the state of Delaware are pursuing it aggressively to the fullest extent of the law."

"The thing that makes this case so troubling and horrific is the alleged abuse of trust in this matter," said Biden. "These are highly specialized cases where no one in the community could believe someone could do this to a child, to a child who is voiceless."

Biden said that some of the alleged victims were just months old. If convicted, Bradley could face life in prison, according to Biden.

"Both as an attorney general and a father of two children it shocks the conscience," said Biden. "But I'd like to take this opportunity to tell parents that we are doing everything in our power to pursue this case to the fullest extent of the law."

Asked how the reported abuse was able to go on for so long, Biden responded, "The Delaware State Police has been aggressively investigating this and when they had evidence of crime they came to us and we filed charges. I have a great degree of confidence in the Delaware State Police and we are aggressively pursuing this investigation."

According to court documents obtained by, the investigation was spurred after a 2-year-old girl told her mother that Bradley had touched her genitals and "hurt her" during a Dec. 7 appointment.

Bradley was supposed to appear at a preliminary hearing Wednesday, but it was rescheduled for Jan. 14, 2010, after Bradley was reportedly put on suicide watch.

The attorney representing Bradley, Eugene Maurer, called the suicide reports "bogus" in an interview with ABC News and said that his client is actually just isolated in the prison infirmary.

"I think he's sort of in shell-shock by everything that's happened so quickly," said Maurer. "He is well aware of what he's facing at this point."

"It seems to me that we need to do a very rigorous exploration of his mental health and see if there's any pathology there," he added. "This case kind of cries out for that kind of analysis."

According to the child's mother, who is not named in the court documents, Bradley first examined the toddler in her presence, but then "removed the victim to the basement of the office, where a toy room is located."

The mother told authorities that she permitted her daughter to be alone with Bradley "because of his position as a doctor" and because she "trusted him."

But on the way home from the doctor the mother alleges that her daughter said Bradley had sexually abused her while they were alone in the basement. The girl's father, who had taken to her to a previous appointment with Bradley, also told authorities his daughter had made a similar complaint to him in November.

Court Documents Allege Bradley Video Tapes Patients' Abuse

In 18 pages of disturbing court documents, Bradley is accused of videotaping sexual acts with his young patients and molesting them repeatedly while their parents waited in nearby examination rooms.

Bradley, who had been in the 1,300-person town of Lewes since 1994, is accused of abusing his patients for the past 11 years. These court documents refer to incidents that happened between August and December of this year, but authorities, who have taken videos and materials from Bradley's home, believe that hundreds of the doctor's massive client-base could be involved.

Mike Duckworth, treasurer of the Bethel United Methodist Church near Bradley's home, told The Associated Press that the charges brought "a lot of shock" to neighborhood residents.

"There was a time when Dr. Bradley was the new and exciting pediatrician in town," Duckworth said.

According to the documents, the examination room known as the Pinocchio Room because of its decorations was seen frequently on the video tapes obtained by authorities that reportedly show Bradley undressing his patients -- one as young as 3 months old -- and performing sex acts on them.

In another room decked out with "The Little Mermaid" paraphernalia, equally horrific abuse allegedly occurred at the hands of Bradley, who investigators said was seen on the tapes muzzling screaming children as they tried to flee the abuse.

Described as a large 6-foot, 225-pound man, Bradley allegedly had a "violently enraged expression on his face" as he yelled to a 2-year-old patient to perform sexual acts on him. That particular video was described by the investigating officer in court documents as "one of the most violent and brutal attacks on a child of any age" that he had ever seen.

Biden, who has set up a special victims unit division to deal with the Bradley case, is asking any parents with a child who is a patient or former patient of the doctor's to come forward and talk to police.

Will Alleged Victims Remember the Abuse?

N.G. Berrill, a New York forensic psychologist who has not treated any of Bradley's alleged victims, said that the older a child gets the more likely they are to remember being abused.

"As the kids get older, obviously there is a higher likelihood that they'd know something went wrong," said Berrill. "Although, a pediatrician used to examining kids physically are probably pretty skilled at fondling a kid without the child knowing something was wrong."

Berrill added that the extent of the pain the child endured would also affect how likely it was for the child to report the abuse.

"What makes this so insidious is that the vast majority of people would not think this man would physically abuse their children because he was a doctor," said Berrill. "And a child's experience already is that sometimes, when you go to the doctor, they have to do something that will happen to hurt."

"Pediatricians are people, like piano teachers and coaches, who we would normally expect to be respectful with children and so when we hear them crossing the boundary and doing the worst, it unsettles everyone."

ABC News' Stephanie Sy contributed to this report.

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