Judge to rule if ex-pediatrician raped patients
GEORGETOWN, DE -- An ex-pediatrician accused of raping and sexually assaulting scores of his young patients over a decade will await a judge's decision after a one-day trial in which the graphic testimony moved women to tears and drove others from the courtroom.
Prosecutors on Tuesday presented their case against Earl Bradley to a judge in southern Delaware, just miles from his former office in Lewes. Witnesses painted the 58-year-old, gray-bearded former doctor as a predator who covertly videotaped naked patients during exams and who raped young victims or forced them to perform oral sex.
"The rapes were violent, they were brutal," state police Detective Scott Garland testified. "... The violence we were seeing was significant, and beyond anything I had ever witnessed. Nothing had prepared me for it."
Prosecutors gave Sussex County Superior Judge William Carpenter Jr. hours of graphic video evidence to review, recorded by Bradley himself, documenting the abuse. On the tapes are a total of 86 victims dating to 1998, prosecutors said. All but one were young girls with an average age of 3.
If convicted, Bradley could face life in prison for each of the 14 rape charges against him. He also is charged with assault and sexual exploitation of a child.
The judge will decide the case since Bradley waived his right to a jury trial after his lawyers were unsuccessful in suppressing video evidence against him. He did not indicate when he would rule, but the outcome hardly seems in doubt.
Bradley's defense lawyers did not cross-examine either of the prosecution's witnesses, both Delaware state police detectives. Instead, Bradley's state-appointed lawyer Dean Johnson began by reminding the judge of the defense's objection to the videos' admission. Defense lawyers had previously argued unsuccessfully that the videos were improperly seized from Bradley's office and are expected to pursue an appeal on that issue.
Any appeal would have to wait until after sentencing, however, which likely would be months after the judge rules. Any appeal would be heard by Delaware's Supreme Court. It would be unlikely that a three-judge panel of the court, or the full court itself, would hear any appeal before next year.
Dressed in a gray prison jumpsuit, Bradley said little during Tuesday's four-hour trial, speaking only when the judge asked a few questions, including whether he wanted to testify. He squinted through heavy glasses and often stared at the wall or the defense table. He never took the stand.
Instead, the judge and those in the courtroom listened to detectives who described how Bradley had developed a variety of ruses to conceal his abuse.
Garland, a computer forensics expert, reviewed the more than 13 hours of video taken from Bradley's office complex. He said Bradley had pocket-sized pen cameras he would use to surreptitiously record a child's genitals during exams, often with parents in the room.
To get his victims away from their parents, Bradley would offer toys kept in the office's basement, said the other witness, Det. Thomas Elliott. Another recurring theme was to explain that a child had received an especially painful shot and that the sugar from a Popsicle could help ease the pain, Garland said. Children were then taken alone for a treat and abused.
"You can see the child has a Popsicle in her hand during the course of some of the rapes," Garland said.
Videos of the abuse were filed and categorized in folders with names like "Summer Best," Garland said, with some protected by software that looked and acted like a safe and required an eight-digit password.
The detective's testimony about the videos included describing 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 the assaults, he would sometimes lift up the young victims by the head and throw them several feet onto a couch in the rear of the building at his office complex where investigators found the videos, Garland said. Sometimes he would perform "rescue breathing" and chest rubs to revive the semiconscious victims, the detective said.
Some witnesses in the courtroom sobbed during that description, and one couple stormed out, slamming the door.
About 50 observers were in the courtroom at the trial's start, though some had trickled out by the end of the day. Passions were clearly running high. The Associated Press has not identified the relatives of victims in the case in order to protect the identities of children who are alleged victims of the sexual abuse.
One woman who did not want to be identified but said she was the grandmother of one of the alleged victims said she wished she could shoot Bradley.
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