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One Bradley chapter ends, another begins

November 23, 2012

“In the deserts of the heart, let the healing fountain start.

With that quotation from poet W.H. Auden, Delaware Superior Court Judge Joseph Slights III concluded his approval of a settlement ending the civil case involving Earl Bradley, Beebe Medical Center, the Medical Society of Delaware and several doctors. Slights noted that with criminal and civil litigation ended, “all focus can now be placed on picking up the pieces as best as possible.”

At this milestone, a few observations.

• Resolving the litigation seemed to take a long time, yet healing will take much longer. The deserts of the heart remain an elusive place, still littered with the wounds of Bradley's crimes. Only time, intense attention to suspected problems, and the eternal vigilance reaffirmed and required by this case can help create a healthy place where the healing fountain can begin to nurture anew.

• By not taking a defensive stance that risked bankruptcy, and instead accepting responsibility, Beebe Medical Center led the way toward a relatively rapid resolution so money to facilitate healing will make its way more quickly to the victims and their families. In agreeing to reduce fees originally proposed for lawyers defending their clients, Judge Slights recognized the thorough investigation of the Department of Justice “and Beebe's role in achieving the benefit for the class and the needs of class members.” That meant more money for the victims.

• Finally, the perpetrator half of this equation remains largely unaddressed. Bradley will spend the rest of his life in prison, tormented until his death by the seriously diseased mind that produced his crimes. But, our society continues to be plagued by sick adults preying sexually on children.

That reality requires that we work toward the screening and vigilance needed to identify predators, and get them the help needed to prevent their crimes. In the meantime, as many associated with this case have said, no one gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to protecting the safety of children.

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