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Ex-Delaware pediatrician guilty of child sex abuse

A former Delaware pediatrician who decorated his office with Disney characters and miniature amusement park rides was found guilty Thursday of sexually abusing scores of his young patients.

Earl Bradley, 58, recorded homemade videos of the abuse, said prosecutors, who presented the judge with more than 13 hours of videos showing sex crimes against more than 80 victims, most of whom were toddlers.

Superior Court Judge William Carpenter Jr. announced the verdict in business-like fashion, avoiding any personal remarks about Bradley. An indictment against Bradley contained 470 counts, but attorneys agreed before the trial to consolidate them into 24 counts.

Bradley was convicted on all of them, including 14 rape charges that each carries a maximum punishment of life in prison. He will be sentenced Aug. 26.

Bradley show no visible reaction when the verdict was announced, but some of the spectators cried.

Carpenter presided over a one-day trial in which prosecutors called two witnesses and presented the judge with an external hard drive containing the videos, recorded from December 1998 to Dec. 13, 2009. Bradley was arrested after a 2-year-old girl told her mother the doctor hurt her after an office visit, an accusation that came just days before the last video was recorded.

Bradley waived his right to a jury trial after Carpenter denied a motion by defense attorneys to prevent the videos from being admitted as evidence. The defense claims they were illegally seized.

The defense presented no case at trial so they could more quickly appeal the judge's decision allowing the videos to be used as evidence.

Attorney Dean Johnson reiterated Thursday that he would appeal the judge's decision after Bradley's sentencing. He declined further comment, citing a gag order that remains in effect until the sentencing. Attorney General Beau Biden also declined to comment.

The case rocked the close-knit community of Lewes, a town of about 3,100 on the southern Delaware coast. Families had to identify victims, and the scandal pitted some spouses against each other, and parents against grandparents. Guilt over leaving children alone with Bradley lurked in the background for some.

Bradley's office in Lewes was known for its many toys, merry-go-round and Ferris wheel. While Bradley secretly recorded some videos in Disney-themed exam rooms, the most brutal attacks occurred in a basement or a backroom where he lured children with promises of candy or toys.

Bradley's arrest followed previous police investigations and years of suspicions among parents. His colleagues also questioned his strange behavior, including being overly affectionate with children and not looking adults in the eye.

After his arrest, reviews found that state medical society officials, individual doctors and the Delaware Department of Justice violated state law by not reporting possible unprofessional behavior by Bradley to the medical licensing board. The board itself was criticized for failing to act on information it did receive about Bradley.

Gov. Jack Markell signed nine bills about a year ago prompted by the Bradley case that tightened regulation of doctors and clarified the obligations of the medical and law-enforcement communities to report and communicate about suspected physician misconduct and child abuse.

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