Pediatrician's Office Looked Like Playground, Was Allegedly Scene of Abuse

Dr. Earl Bradley may have sexually assaulted 100 children over 11 years.

LEWES, Del., Dec. 26, 2009 — -- Dr. Earl Bradley's office looks like a playground, a place thousands of parents in the small town of Lewes, Del., felt safe bringing their children.

The 56-year-old pediatrician now stands accused of sexually assaulting seven children in the last year, and possibly more than 100 over a period of 11 years.

Bradley 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 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," Biden said. "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.

"One, you have a person in a position of trust who we entrust our children to, and two, you have children who are sometimes unable to verbalize that something bad has happened to them," Biden said.

According to court documents, Bradley lured children away from their parents, bringing them to a room filled with candy and toys. There, he would allegedly videotape his assaults on children, prosecutors said.

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.

However, he said: "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. This case kind of cries out for that kind of analysis."

Bradley was also licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida. No charges have been filed against him in any of those states, but Delaware officials have contacted authorities there about the pediatrician.

Psychiatrists say Bradley may have targeted this small town because he thought he could build trust easily, and had a solo practice where he had complete control.

"If you look at the office, he created a Neverland of pediatrics," forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner said. "By the time we get to 56 years old, he worked out the kinks … how to take advantage of them and keep taking advantage of them."

It's estimated that 90 percent of children who are sexually assaulted are targeted by people they know. It is standard practice for parents to stay with their pre-teen children during medical examinations.

In a chilling 2001 interview with the Cape Gazette newspaper, Bradley compared himself to a doctor in a Norman Rockwell painting, saying he "wanted to have people wonder what crazy Dr. Bradley will do next."

In some cases, the doctor was only alone with the child for a few minutes -- and authorities say, that's all it took.

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."