Broken Trust – The Case of Serial Pedophile, Earl Bradley

HISTORY:

Earl Brian Bradley was born on May 10, 1953, in Philadelphia, PA. After having graduated from Temple University School of Medicine in 1983, he completed his pediatrics residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in Center City, Philadelphia, PA. In 1984, he took a position at Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, now Aria Health’s Torresdale Campus, in Northeast Philadelphia. He also had a private pediatric office, several blocks away, in Morrell Park.

However, in 1995, after having been investigated for two separate sexual-misconduct complaints, Bradley moved himself and his practice to Lewes, Delaware, a small, coastal town of twenty-nine-hundred residents. He had taken a position with Beebe Medical Center. Soon thereafter, he also opened an independent practice and called it Baybees Pediatrics.

For advertising, Bradley drove a succession of bright-yellow Volkswagen Beetles, each with black stripes, eyes and a stinger, to resemble bumblebees; the name of his practice displayed on the sides.

Doctor Bradley, held in high esteem by the community, was nonetheless described variously as “oddball,” “eccentric,” “perpetually disheveled,” and “weird and disgusting,” by both parents and coworkers. His beard was always unkempt to the point of being matted; his hair was never combed. Surgical scrubs were his daily wear; they were often soiled by blood and other bodily fluids. As seems common with pedophiles, eye-contact with adults was a rare thing. That said, Bradley seemed to have a way with children –  he seemed very comfortable, and able to connect easily with them. Often, he wore clothing with Disney characters on them.

To top it off, Bradley’s offices were made to seem like fun-houses. He had installed a yard full of working carnival rides and playground toys. A statue of Buzz Lightyear adorned the roof. Parents were told of a toy-filled basement, at Bradley’s offices, which they were never allowed to visit; however, Bradley had the “caring” habit, while parents paid at the front desk, of picking up his patients and carrying them downstairs, or to an outbuilding, for post-visit toys and treats. The examination rooms were also filled with toys and decked out in various Disney-character themes. An adjacent outbuilding, also seemingly off-limits to parents, was stuffed with toys. There was a movie theatre, and a sort of planetarium where he would routinely take his young patients, to show them his glow-in-the-dark constellations. The childish motif even extended to his nearby home, where on the front porch he displayed a full suit of medieval armor.  Locals, along with Bradley’s medical colleagues, came to refer to his home and offices as “Neverland.”

Bradley’s Clinic, complete with working carousel outside.

As a practitioner, Bradley would spend great amounts of time and energy, lavishing his female patients with “nose rubs” and lots of hugs. Many girls were given 30-minute “examinations” while their parents waited outside. Often parents were directed to bring in their daughters for a three-day series of shots. It was also common for every girl, on nearly every visit, to have a urine sample taken by way of using a catheter; older girls were made to squat, naked, on the floor, while he inserted the catheters from behind. After examinations, he gave each child a lollipop, and each girl a “princess doll.” And, countless children were given Popsicles, when leaving, to alleviate swollen lips, due to “an adverse reaction” to a shot.

These activities weren’t without friction though. In 1996, a nurse complained to her supervisor, about Bradley’s repeated inappropriate touching while inserting female catheters into girls, who were made to undress and squat on the floor. Then, in 2004, Lynda Barnes, Bradley’s older sister and office manager, reported him to the Medical Society of Delaware, writing that parents were complaining of Bradley “”handling their daughters with improper touching.” She wrote that she feared a “very public collapse or prosecution by parents.”  Then-president of the medical society, Dr. James Marvel, decided that this was simply “a family matter,” and didn’t pursue it further. In 2005, Bradley was reported by a nurse, for having videotaped children. Also, a number of physicians made complaints regarding his penchant for long and unnecessary vaginal exams of young girls. However, the Attorney General’s office found “too little evidence to warrant prosecution.” Though Beebe Medical Center allegedly undertook a new “peer review” of the allegations which had been leveled at Bradley, his peers reportedly found no merit in them. He continued to work at Beebe, until 2009. In December, 2009, Bradley was arrested.

WARNING – the following are descriptions of Bradley’s crimes, which could be triggering to some. Please do not read any further if you feel you may be traumatized by the content.

 

After many allegations, and years of the medical community ‘looking the other way,’ Earl Bradley was – at long last – investigated by police. They descended on his office, cataloguing as they went. And, the first thing they noticed was the sheer amount of video cameras that were present in Bradley’s BayBees center.  They seemed to be everywhere: in every exam space, in the basement, in the out buildings, etc.  This is obviously odd for a medical practice, but it wasn’t proof of real wrong-doing.  However, the truly damning evidence came soon after when detectives plugged in the flash drives they’d seized from Bradley’s office. The drives contained over 13 hours of Bradley’s attacks on children for the past 10+ years.  Some of the attacks lasted minutes, and others mere seconds. Either way, they were incredibly difficult to watch. The detective tasked with doing so stated that Bradley had a “violently enraged expression on his face” as he yelled to a 2-year-old patient to perform sexual acts on him. He further described it as “one of the most violent and brutal attacks on a child of any age” that he had ever seen.

Forcing the children to orally copulate him, Bradley would often proceed to the point that the child would pass out from lack of oxygen.  He can be seen using CPR to resuscitate them after they go unconscious. Finally, after these incredibly violent attacks, he would give the child a popsicle, to mask the swelling of their lips and mouths, before returning the child to her parents in the waiting room. Bradley also forcibly raped his victims, sometimes several times in one weekend, after suggesting the 3-day “series of shots” to her parents.  Bradley even assaulted children in front of their parents, disguised as part of an examination under a privacy sheet. He allegedly filmed these assaults too, ostensibly using his cell phone or a ‘pen camera’ to capture it.

In February, 2010, Bradley was indicted on 471 charges of alleged rape, molestation, exploitation and sexual abuse—specifically, forced oral sex and intercourse—of one-hundred-three pediatric patients. In April, 2010, he was indicted on an additional fifty-eight charges for the sexual abuse of twenty-four additional children. He was found guilty on 24 counts of first-degree rape, assault and sexual child-exploitation against eighty-six children; consolidated from 571 criminal counts against more than one-hundred children, on instances since 1998. His victims (103 children, at least) ranged in age from 3 months to 14-years-old. All, but one, were girls.

Post-conviction demolition of Bradley’s car

PROFILE

It goes without saying that Bradley was a pedophile, as he clearly evidenced an attraction to very young children. However, the lengths that Bradley went to in order to meet his own needs (at the expense of the children and their families) was notable. While it’s common for pedophiles to put themselves in situations where they will come into contact with children (like an assistant coaching gig, for example), it’s somewhat rare for a pedophile to go to such lengths in order to be able to justify the time they spend alone with children – or to attempt to justify the childrens’ reactions after they violate them.  However, this is exactly what Bradley did.

First, he acquired a degree to practice medicine, and then he specialized in pediatrics. Next, he spent a great deal of money to create an office that would be extremely appealing to both youngsters and their parents, while remaining separate from a true hospital (thus, giving him the privacy he desired, as well as being able to install cameras).  Then Bradley made certain that he kept popsicles (and sometimes lollipops laced with drugs) on-hand for when his victims suffered and he needed a buffer.

Illustration by Richard Watkins/AJC

This didn’t necessarily trigger alarm bells with the parents because kids often cry at the doctor’s office, right?  All in all, Bradley had the perfect cover – and high status in the community – to protect him from being discovered.

Yet Bradley was rare in other ways too – ways in which the majority of pedophiles are not.  Bradley was extremely violent.  Unlike most pedophiles, who groom and encourage their victims to become comfortable around them while slowly luring them into an escalating pattern of molestation, Bradley didn’t bother with all that.  To the contrary, Bradley would physically restrain and rape the children, despite their screams for help.  He even orally raped several of his victims to the point of having to resuscitate them.  And, yet, it didn’t stop or scare Bradley.  Instead, he merely continued forcefully violating his victims until he was finally caught – which likely means that Bradley wasn’t just a pedophile.  He was a sadist too.

Pedophiles are sexually aroused by children, and sadists are aroused by causing pain.  Given the extreme nature of many of his acts, and the fact that he continued (sometimes more vigorously than before the victims went unconscious), it seems probable that Bradley was turned on by the pain/terror he was causing as well. One detective noted that Bradley’s face was twisted into an ugly, hateful grimace as he violated his victims; and it was something that haunted the detective afterword.  In short, Bradley had two things going on simultaneously: pedophilia and sexual sadism.

Again, this is a rare combination.  But, it’s certainly the stuff of nightmares.  To be sure, the families touched by this man will be affected for years to come, and my heart goes out to all of them.

I mean, if you can’t trust your doctor (in some cases, the same doctor who helped deliver your child), who can you trust?

Recent mug shot of Bradley

NOTE: Bradley is appealing his conviction on the grounds that the flash drives found in his office were seized illegally.  He has never apologized, nor acknowledged what he did.

 

 

 

 

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