In Bradley settlement, the system worked

October 12, 2012

“For seventeen months, in monthly, weekly and finally, daily sessions, the lawyers sought to balance the legal rights of their respective clients against the needs of the children, the availability of insurance proceeds, and the hospital's ability to continue to provide excellent care to the Lower Delaware community. All parties compromised.” - Excerpt from the press release announcing a settlement in the class action suit against Beebe Medical Center, and several other entities, in the matter of convicted pedophile Earl Bradley.

The civil case involving the crimes of Earl Bradley has been intense and nearly two years in duration. Still, it's to the credit of all parties involved - except for Bradley, whose tormented abuse of patients has landed him in prison for the rest of his life - that they all came together to seek a fair settlement in the interests of the welfare of the child victims and the community-owned, nonprofit medical institution that has served admirably for so many decades.

Had more selfish interests prevailed, the civil cases - like a series of open wounds - could have festered and more overtly haunted the community for many more years. It doesn't always happen, but in this case a system built on high ideals actually worked. It's hard to imagine a case in any more need of a system that worked.

The insurance companies providing the bulk of the $123 million that will go to the victims to compensate them for their suffering and continuing care did what insurance companies are supposed to do. As evidenced by his unusually violent crimes against the most innocent, Bradley is a psychiatric aberration of nature. Individuals and institutions buy insurance to help protect against such unforeseen calamities.

As much as we would all like to breathe a collective sigh of relief with this settlement, we cannot. The wounds are too fresh, and the long-term effects of Bradley's crimes are likely to manifest in a variety of ways through the years ahead as the victims pass through different phases of their lives.

Sexual abuse of children is and will remain a pervasive problem in our community - and throughout our national society. It demands serious study and continuing attention.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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