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Pediatrician gets life in prison for sexually abusing patients

Former Delaware pediatrician Earl Bradley will spend the rest of his life in prison for committing horrific acts of sexual abuse against scores of young patients over more than a decade, a judge ruled Friday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Former Delaware pediatrician Earl Bradley will spend the rest of his life in prison for committing horrific acts of sexual abuse against scores of young patients over more than a decade, a judge ruled Friday.

Bradley, 58, showed no emotion as Judge William Carpenter Jr. sentenced him to 14 life sentences without parole for 14 counts of first-degree rape. Bradley also was sentenced to more than 160 years in prison for multiple counts of assault and sexual exploitation of a child.

Under state law, a life sentence is mandatory for a person convicted of rape against three or more separate victims.

"You will never be in a position to harm a child again," Carpenter told Bradley, saying the serial pedophile had violated the trust of his patients and their families, the morals of the southern Delaware community of Lewes, and his oath as a medical professional to do no harm to his patients.

"You have severely violated that trust, and you have shamed your profession," Carpenter told Bradley.

Before sentencing Bradley, the judge addressed the families of his victims, some of whom have struggled with broken relationships stemming from their ordeal and guilt for allowing the doctor to be alone with their children.

"You must realize that you are not at fault, and that you and your children have done nothing wrong," Carpenter said.

Some women in the courtroom wept as prosecutor Paula Ryan recounted Bradley's crimes and asked Carpenter to impose the maximum sentences, saying "every minute of every day should be as difficult as possible for Earl Bradley to endure ..."

"No amount of jail time, no punishment, will ever be sufficient enough to compensate for the damage that Earl Bradley did to these children, to their families, to the community in Lewes, to medical and health care professionals, to every single person in the state of Delaware," Ryan said.

"Earl Bradley committed unspeakable acts upon those who could not speak for themselves," she added. ".... To make indescribable and horrific matters even worse, he videotaped these incidents for his own perverse pleasure, endlessly editing and copying, permanently memorializing his attacks on these children for his own twisted collection."

Public defender Dean Johnson did not address the court, and Bradley also chose not to speak.

"It's the sentence that was expected," Johnson said afterward, adding that Bradley "is putting great stock" in the defense's appeal of a ruling by Carpenter allowing the videotapes of Bradley's sexual assaults to be admitted as evidence.

After escaping prosecution following two previous police investigations of complaints of improper contact with patients, Bradley was arrested in December 2009 after a 2-year-old girl complained to her mother after an office visit that the doctor had hurt her. The child had made a similar complaint to her father after an earlier visit.

Bradley's sister, who worked in his office, had told police in 2005 that her brother was bipolar and taking medication from the office, and that several parents had complained about Bradley inappropriately touching patients.

Two pediatricians interviewed by police in 2005 also told investigators about complaints from Bradley's former patients.

Acting upon the 2009 complaint, investigators finally arrested Bradley and searched his Lewes office complex, decorated with Disney themes and miniature amusement park rides. They seized dozens of homemade videos from an outbuilding where Bradley had lured patients with promises of treats and toys.

Bradley's public defenders presented no defense at his trial, opting instead for a swift verdict so they could more quickly appeal Carpenter's decision to allow the videos as evidence. The defense contends they were improperly seized by investigators acting outside the scope of their search warrant.

Johnson said Friday that he would file notice of the appeal within days.

After Carpenter allowed the tapes into evidence, Bradley waived his right to a jury trial. At a one-day bench trial in June, prosecutors presented testimony from two police investigators and gave Carpenter more than 13 hours of videos showing sex crimes against more than 80 victims, most of whom were toddlers.

In his testimony, state police detective Scott Garland described the rapes caught on video as brutal and violent. He explained how some videos showed Bradley with his hands wrapped tightly around the heads of young children, violently forcing them to perform oral sex on him. When Bradley was finished with such assaults, he would lift up the young victims by the head and throw them several feet onto a couch in the rear of the building where investigators found the damning videos, Garland testified. Bradley sometimes would perform "rescue breathing" and chest rubs to revive the semiconscious victims, the detective added.

Attorney General Beau Biden, who cited his desire to see Bradley's prosecution through its conclusion as the reason he opted not to run for the U.S. Senate seat once held by his father, said the state had achieved its first objective of ensuring that Bradley will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Biden said the second objective is helping the families of Bradley's victims cope with what has happened to them.

"That's a job that never ends," he said.