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Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 12:05pm
GEORGETOWN, Del. - A pediatrition charged with sexually abusing his patients likely attacked more than 100 children at an office he had decked out with a merry-go-round and a ferris wheel, a state official said Wednesday.
The volume of evidence seized from Dr. Earl Bradley's practice and home, including video tapes and computer files, makes it difficult to estimate the number of victims, said Alexis Slutsky, a deputy attorney general assigned to the state's Child Predator Task Force.
"I'm comfortable in saying probably well over 100 potential victims," she said at a news conference with Attorney General Beau Biden and other law enforcement officials.
Slutsky said the investigation is focusing on cases between 1998 and the present.
Bradley, 56, was arrested last week and is being held in prison on $2.9 million bond. He has been charged with 33 felony counts relating to seven victims. A preliminary hearing Wednesday was postponed until Jan. 14. His attorney, Eugene Maurer, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Stacy Cohee, a deputy attorney general, said Bradley was not brought to the courthouse for Wednesday's hearing because corrections officials are "concerned about his mental state right now," adding that there were concerns he is suicidal.
The case has shocked the close-knit community of Lewes, a town of about 3,100 on the Delaware coast. The case is even more chilling because some alleged victims are no more than 6 months old.
"It's horrific," said Wallace Hudson, vice president of Beebe Medical Center just blocks from Bradley's home. Bradley had privileges at the hospital which were immediately suspended when he was arrested. Pennsylvania's state board of medicine also announced an immediate temporary suspension of Bradley's license there.
Police say Bradley used video cameras to record some of the attacks.
An 18-page document detailed the alleged attacks in exam rooms, which had Disney themes such as Pinocchio, at BayBees Pediatrics, Bradley's solo practice. A detective who viewed the assaults described in court papers the 6-foot, 225-pound Bradley as having a "violently enraged expression on his face" in one video involving a 2-year-old.
"As of this moment, we have not identified all of the victims in this case, and the investigation is ongoing in an aggressive fashion," Biden said.
Bradley's office was known for its many toys and the rides he had in front. On Wednesday, the deserted office looked more like a small run-down carnival than a pediatric office, including a small merry-go-round and Ferris wheel. A pink sign in front of one building read: "Princess Parking only. All Others will be toad."
Hudson said Bradley had been in the area since 1994. He said the hospital has arranged for counseling for patients and their parents. He also said doctors who already have full practices have arranged to take Bradley's patients, who he estimated "runs in the thousands."
Mike Duckworth, treasurer of the Bethel United Methodist Church near Bradley's home, said the charges have brought "a lot of shock" in the neighborhood and to the parents of children in the church's preschool program.
"There was a time when Dr. Bradley was the new and exciting pediatrician in town," Duckworth said.
Duckworth said his granddaughter had two appointments with Bradley, but his daughter decided to get a new doctor about four years ago after Bradley asked to see the girl alone.
"There was a point in the examination when he wanted to take my granddaughter away and my daughter wouldn't let him do that," Duckworth said.
Bradley also had medical licenses in Florida and New Jersey.
"We are looking into that at this time," Cohee said.
The alleged crimes cited in court papers happened between August and December. Police said they learned of the alleged abuse when a 2-year-old girl told her mother that the doctor had hurt her during a Dec. 7 appointment.
The News Journal of Wilmington on Tuesday cited a detective's sworn statement that said evaluation of seized video files and software has discovered 15 more unidentified victims.
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