Bradley awaits judge’s verdict

Detective: Violence beyond anything I had experienced
June 9, 2011
Det. Thomas Elliott, Deputy Attorney General Paula Ryan and Deputy Attorney General Alexis Gatti walk to the Sussex County Courthouse for the trial of Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley BY RON MACARTHUR

Testimony in the trial of Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley ended the day it began.  New Castle County Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. will review the evidence presented at the June 7 bench trial and then render his verdict.

Bradley, once known in Lewes for his abilities as a diagnostician of children's diseases, was arrested in December 2009, accused of violent assaults, including rapes, of more than 100 patients and children.

The courtroom, packed with around 50 families and 20 media members, witnessed a fast-paced proceeding. Deputy Attorney General Paula Ryan presented only two witnesses, and defense counsel Dean Johnson and Robert Goff presented no witnesses, did not object to any of the prosecution’s arguments and did not cross-examine the state’s witnesses.

Both sides agreed to condense the indictment against Bradley from nearly 500 charges to just 24 - 14 counts of first-degree rape, five counts of second-degree assault and five counts of child exploitation. Most of the Jane Does in the original indictment were combined into the child-exploitation charges, which included Bradley’s filming of the abuse of these children.

While most of the testimony was very straightforward and procedural, emotions at times ran high; Deputy Attorney General Alexis Gatti seemed to choke up as she was reading the 24 counts against Bradley.

But the real emotional sparks flew during the testimony of Detective Scott Garland, the Delaware State Police officer who reviewed numerous digital media files he said showed Bradley committing extremely violent sexual assaults against children.

The video was entered in evidence but was not shown in the courtroom. Garland described, in vivid and occasionally graphic detail, what he had seen on the videos. He said several videos police called alert videos showed Bradley’s most violent assaults.

“There was nothing that prepared me for these,” Garland said. "The violence was beyond anything I had ever experienced ...These rapes were violent, and they were brutal.”

In one instance, the detective said he found himself yelling at the computer screen while watching the video as Bradley forced a toddler to perform fellatio on him. Garland said Bradley was choking the life out of the child by smothering her face in his midsection. Garland said he could see the child losing the fight for air, turning blue and gray. When Bradley finished with the child, he lifted her from between his legs and tossed her 3 feet in the air onto a nearby couch, Garland said. Bradley had to resuscitate the child to get her to wake up. Garland said the video showed Bradley giving her a popsicle and taking her out of the room like nothing happened.

As Garland recounted this story, many of the families in attendance got up and walked out of the courtroom. Sobbing could be heard from the gallery, and one parent punched the door in anger on the way out. For his part, Bradley, with a thick beard and thinning hair, sat still and often appeared disinterested, looking downward or staring straight ahead.

Garland said extremely violent assaults like this happened on five separate occasions on the videos, and all of them happened in the black-and-white, checkerboard-painted outbuilding adjacent to Bradley’s main office. The most vicious assaults were against toddlers and infants, or as Garland said, against children whose verbalization skills were limited.

While most of the victims were toddlers, the average age of Bradley’s victims was 3 years old, Garland said. Bradley also abused older children during routine examinations, usually by maneuvering a video camera in a position to film their genital areas during the exams. Bradley abused children in the basement of his office, although Garland said these did not tend to be as violent as the assaults in the checkerboard office. Some assaults took place at Bradley’s Savannah Road residence, including one instance when Garland said Bradley sexually molested a 6-year-old girl after drugging her with nitrous oxide.

Garland said what differentiated Bradley from other pedophiles is that, instead of concealing his victims and his crimes, Bradley hid neither himself nor the child from the camera. That being said, Garland noted that Bradley was careful to avoid discovery. Whenever a noise from outside was heard on the tape, Garland said, Bradley would quickly redress himself and the child. Bradley concealed the video files of his crimes by giving them names that coincided with the time the crimes occurred, such as “Election Eve,” “Summer Best,” “Halloween” and “January Great,” Garland said.

Bradley kept many of these digital files behind a data safe, a password-protected storage area on his computer. Some of these safes had names and contained videos of assaults. One of these, Garland said, was called “Post,” and contained three videos of three victims – an 11-year-old, a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old. Garland said the name “Post” seemed to refer to the children’s development stage.

The detective said popsicles were a consistent theme in the videos, given out as a way to cover up his assaults and, in some cases, to cover up the ferocity of Bradley’s attacks. Bradley would give children unnecessary shots of Rosaphen on their thighs, and then tell parents that sugar, in the form of a popsicle, would ease the pain, Garland said.

After giving the Rosaphen, Bradley would take the child into another room where the assaults would occur, said Garland. Victims given Rosaphen were discernable on the videos by the Band-Aids on their legs.

Most child predators groom their victims through threat or reward, Garland said. In Bradley’s case, the people being groomed were the children’s parents. The doctor was able to get them to accept that popsicles and toys were just a routine part of the visit.

“There was a great deal of planning to these crimes,” Garland said.

Overall, Bradley recorded 13 hours of footage of his assaults, which occurred from 1998 to December 2009, Garland said, and many of those videos were edited into three-minute video clips. Garland said none of the clips were made in 2005, which he noted was when Bradley was under investigation by the Milford Police Department.

Besides miniature hand-held cameras, Bradley also used pen cameras, a small camera attached to the end of a fountain pen with a small USB storage device attached. In a video Bradley called “Pen Safe,” the doctor is shown adjusting the pen, in the pocket of his doctor scrubs, in a mirror before going into an exam room and then using the pen to film a young girl’s genital area, Garland said.

After Garland’s testimony, and both sides resting their case, Carpenter asked Bradley if he’d wish to testify, even if it is against the advice of his counsel. In a gravelly voice, Bradley said he did not wish to testify.

Also testifying for the prosecution was Detective Thomas Elliott, the officer who arrested Bradley. Elliott went through the time sequence that led to Bradley’s apprehension and how the video files were seized.

Outside the courtroom, attorneys for both sides continued to respect Carpenter’s gag order against talking to the media. Attorney General Joseph “Beau” Biden III, flanked by the state’s legal team and two large boxes of evidence, had no comment. Johnson also did not comment on the proceedings.

Carpenter set no timetable for rendering a verdict but said he would notify counsel when he makes his decision.

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