Dean Linda Ammons of the Widener University School of Law will head up an independent review of to see what went wrong in the case of Dr. Earl Bradley.
Bradley has been charged with over 30 counts of rape and exploitation of young children. Warning signs and complaints regarding Bradley's behavior surfaced several times in 2005 and 2008, but nothing was done until Bradley was arrested Dec. 16. Delaware State Police officials have said, before that, they did not have enough evidence to charge Bradley.
"Like most parents, I was and I remain horrified by the allegations of consistent sexual abuse of children in Sussex County by their pediatrician. These crimes can never be forgiven, and they'll never be forgotten. And it is our obligation to make ensure they will not be repeated. It is clear the system has failed," Gov. Jack Markell said in announcing Ammons' appointment.
He said the review would create a framework to protect children in the future.
"To head this review, we need an independent leader with experience, who knows government and the law," Markell said.
Ammons has been the dean of Widener University's School of Law since 2006. She is the seventh dean, as well as the first woman and the first African-American to be dean at Widener.
Ammons was previously a professor of law and associate dean at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in Cleveland where she served for 15 years. She has also been on the faculty of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nev., since 1993.
Before joining the faculty at Cleveland-Marshall, Ammons served from 1988 to 1991 as executive assistant to Gov. Richard Celeste of Ohio, advising Celeste on legal and policy matters in the areas of criminal justice, regulations and administration.
Under Celeste, Ammons was instrumental in the battered women's clemency project, which helped result in clemency for 28 Ohio women. She also initiated and co-chaired the American Bar Association National Institute on Defending Battered Women in criminal cases for two years.
Markell said he has asked Ammons to examine six areas:
• Professional reporting requirements for suspected incidents of misconduct and the enforcement thereof
• Professional licensing requirements, procedures and enforcement, including comprehensive background checks
• Medical standards and protocols regarding pediatric care
• Efficiency of outreach efforts, including reporting requirements for questionable behavior
• Proper communication between law enforcement, professional regulators and the medical community
• Ensuring that adequate service is provided for sexually abused or exploited children.
Markell said the review would not affect the ongoing investigation of Bradley by the Attorney General's Office.
Ammons said, "After long consideration, I feel that it is important that I step up and do what I've preached about so long. And so I take on this task understanding the horrific nature of it. I have been assured that I will have the full support of state government as we attempt to find ways to make sure this does not happen again."
Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover, said, "In the context of these monstrous allegations coming from Lewes, it is important that all Delawareans know that the leaders of this state are taking this entire matter very seriously and are fully engaged on trying to figure out where the system failed and come up with recommendations to fix those flaws."
Regarding the timeline for the review, Markell said he wants to have Ammons' recommendations into the General Assembly in time for the assembly to act upon them. That would mean getting the review into the legislature sometime before the General Assembly's last session of June 30.
Markell said Ammons will not have subpoena power but he expects the full cooperation of law enforcement officials.
Ammons said it has not yet been determined how large her team will be. She said the public could contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regarding public updates of her review, Ammons said, "It is very difficult to do an intensive review under the glare of that type of responsibility to constantly report back. If there should come an issue that I feel should be reported to the public, you have my assurances that that will happen. The main thing that I need to do is get in there, get the job done and then make the major recommendations to all the appropriate bodies."
"We're looking forward to her report and to making the necessary changes to better protect our children from predators," Markell said.