GEORGETOWN, Del. » The trial of a former Delaware pediatrician charged with sexually assaulting scores of his young patients over more than a decade began and ended Tuesday with prosecutors calling two police officers to testify and the defense presenting no case.
Detective Scott Garland, a Delaware state police computer forensics expert, said he and other analysts uncovered 13 hours, 35 minutes and 6 seconds of videotape of sex crimes by Earl Bradley against 86 victims, most of whom were toddlers. The videos date from December 1998 to Dec. 13, 2009, just days before Bradley was arrested.
"The rapes were violent, they were brutal," Garland testified. "… The violence we were seeing was significant, and beyond anything I had ever witnessed. Nothing had prepared me for it."
Some women in the courtroom sobbed. One couple stormed out of the courtroom, slamming the door.
Bradley, dressed in a gray prison jumpsuit, said little during the four-hour trial, speaking only when the judge asked whether he agreed to the entry of the new indictment and whether he wanted to testify. He squinted through heavy glasses and often stared at the wall or the defense table.
Sussex County Superior Judge William Carpenter Jr., who presided over a brief bench trial, said he would review the testimony and videotape evidence and notify attorneys when he had reached a verdict, which he said would be read in open court.
Carpenter gave no indication when he would rule.
Bradley, 58, waived his right to a jury trial last month after Carpenter denied a defense motion to suppress videotaped evidence seized during a 2009 search of Bradley’s former office complex in Lewes. Defense attorneys opted for Tuesday’s "stipulated trial." They essentially are conceding the evidence of Bradley’s homemade videos so they can finish the trial quickly and appeal the denial of the suppression motion.
The trial began with attorneys agreeing to consolidate 470 counts in the original indictment against Bradley into a new, 24-count indictment alleging 14 counts of rape and five counts each of assault and sexual exploitation of a child. Bradley could face life in prison for each of the 14 rape charges.
It ended with Bradley telling the judge he did not wish to testify in his own defense, and after heart-wrenching testimony from Garland.
The detective explained how some videos showed Bradley with his hands wrapped tightly around the heads of young children, violently forcing them to perform oral sex on him. When Bradley was finished with such assaults, he would lift up the young victims by the head and throw them several feet onto a couch in the rear of the building at his office complex where investigators found the damning videos, Garland said. Sometimes he would perform "rescue breathing" and chest rubs to revive the semiconscious victims, the detective said.
Before Garland took the stand, prosecutor Alexis Gatti read a stipulated list of facts that the defense had agreed to, outlining some of the details of the amended indictment. It alleges that one child, who is now 4, was the victim of four separate rapes in 2008 and 2009, and was forced into an oral sex assault that left her struggling to breathe.
Defense attorneys, who did not cross-examine Garland or the other witness, state police Detective Thomas Elliott, stipulated that prosecutors had identified 70 of the 86 alleged victims. They also agreed that the videotapes seized by police show Bradley engaging in acts that left some children unable to breathe properly. They did not stipulate, however, that Bradley committed any of the crimes with which he is charged.
According to the indictment, 75 of the children, including the 16 whom authorities have been unable to identify, were victims of sexual exploitation in which Bradley filmed them engaging in sexual acts or simulated acts. The entire indictment is based on the videotaped evidence seized by police.
"We don’t know what we don’t know," Garland noted. "We’re only discussing the videotape that we were able to find."
The average age of the alleged victims in the videotapes was 3, according to Garland. All but one was female, the only exception being a boy who Bradley forced to perform oral sex, Garland said.
About 50 spectators sat in the courtroom, including one woman who brought a box of tissues. A few others, including a small child, watched a closed-circuit television feed of the proceedings in a room set up for alleged victims’ families.
Garland testified that Bradley appeared to carefully plan his assaults and would work to gain the trust of parents so they would allow him to leave exam rooms with their children on the pretense of giving them Popsicles or toys.
"You can see the child has a Popsicle in her hand during the course of some of the rapes," Garland said, adding that Bradley often would tell parents that sugar would ease the pain of an antibiotic injection.
Bradley was arrested in December 2009 after a 2-year-old girl told her mother that the doctor hurt her when he took her to a basement room of his office after an exam. The arrest followed previous police investigations and years of suspicions among parents and questions about his strange behavior from colleagues.
Reviews ordered after Bradley’s arrest found that state medical society officials, individual doctors and the Delaware Department of Justice violated state law by not reporting possible unprofessional behavior by Bradley to the medical licensing board.
The licensing board itself was criticized for not conducting its own investigation of Bradley more than 16 years ago after learning that Pennsylvania authorities were told he had fondled a young patient, and for failing to act on a 2005 complaint by Milford police after they were unable to prosecute Bradley on allegations that he improperly touched a 3-year-old patient.
Gov. Jack Markell signed nine bills last June prompted by the Bradley case that tightened regulation of doctors and clarified the obligations of the medical and law-enforcement communities to report and communicate about suspected physician misconduct and child abuse.
Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.