Families sobbed on Tuesday as a Delaware pediatrician went on trial for allegedly raping or sexually exploiting 86 young patients, all girls except one and almost all younger than three.
Earl Bradley has pleaded not guilty to 24 counts against him, and sat quietly in gray prison scrubs as a veteran state trooper spent hours describing the doctor’s cache of home videos of the assaults.
They were so “horrible,” testified state police detective Scott Garland, a specialist in forensic computer evidence. “They were beyond anything I had ever witnessed. Nothing prepared me for it.”
At one point, Garland recalled, when he was alone in a room watching videos of toddlers screaming, suffocating and passing out from forced fellatio, he became so angry he jumped up and shouted at the screen: “Let her go!”
Families of some victims were in the courtroom, and Garland’s graphic descriptions elicited muffled sobs, while a few hurried out in anguish.
The videos date from December 1998 to Dec. 13, 2009, just days before Bradley was arrested.
Superior Court Judge William Carpenter presided over the one-day bench trial in southern Delaware where Bradley, who was married with four children, had a practice from 1994 until he was arrested and jailed in December 2009.
His once popular Disney-themed office compound in Lewes, where he taped his alleged assaults for 10 years, went to auction, but with no takers. The toys he once used to quiet crying children were burned by the state rather than sold.
Bradley’s attorneys say the video evidence taken from his offices was seized without a proper warrant and violated Bradley’s constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Carpenter denied the defense attorney’s motion to suppress or throw out the evidence, and the trial became just a step on the way to an appeal.
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.
There was no cross examination of the state’s two police witnesses, no evidence from the defense and no closing arguments.
When the judge offered Bradley an opportunity to speak, the doctor made his longest statement of the day, saying: “I decided not to testify.”
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of US Vice President Joe Biden, watched the trial and conferred with prosecutors. Because of a court gag order in place, Biden said he could not talk about the trial until after there is a verdict.
The judge said he would rule after reviewing 13 hours of video evidence. If Bradley is found guilty, his attorneys will implement their defense in an appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court, raising the claim of a warrantless search.
Carpenter gave no indication when he would rule.
Observer and criminal defense lawyer John Malik said Bradley’s best chance would be if the Supreme Court declared the evidence inadmissible because it was illegally seized.
“The Delaware Constitution affords Delaware defendants greater privacy rights than even the US Constitutition,” Malik said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AP