Delaware Ex-Pediatrician to Spend Life in Prison for Abusing Patients

Dr. Earl Bradley (AP).

Dr. Earl Bradley (AP).

GEORGETOWN, Del. -- A Delaware pediatrician who decorated his office with Disney characters and miniature amusement park rides, is convicted of abusing scores of young patients over more than a decade will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Earl Bradley, 58, showed no emotion as a judge sentenced him Friday to 14 life sentences for 14 counts of first-degree rape.

Bradley was also sentenced to 165 years for multiple counts of assault and continuous sexual exploitation of a child. Bradley was arrested in Dec. 2009 after a 2-year-old girl complained to her mother after an office visit that the doctor had hurt her.

Bradley 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.

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.