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Del. doctor indicted in child sex abuse scandal

A Delaware grand jury returns a sweeping indictment  against a pediatrician accused of serial molestation in what could be one of the worst child sex abuse cases in the nation's history.
/ Source: The Associated Press

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."

Medical license revoked
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, did not immediately return telephone messages Monday.

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."

Years of suspicions
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.

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."