Lawsuit involving pedophile pediatrician settled
DOVER, Del. (AP) — Attorneys for the state medical society and a southern Delaware hospital have settled a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of victims of former pediatrician Earl Bradley, who sexually abused scores of his young patients over more than a decade.
Under the settlement disclosed Wednesday, $123 million will be placed into a trust for the benefit of victims. Bradley, 59, is serving 14 life sentences for child rape.
The victims fund is composed mainly of insurance proceeds, with an additional cash contribution from Beebe Medical Center.
Defendants in the lawsuit included Beebe — where Bradley had hospital privileges — the Medical Society of Delaware, and five physicians accused by the plaintiffs of not reporting suspicions about the ex-doctor to authorities.
The settlement resolves claims against all the defendants.
Attorneys representing the victims declined to comment Wednesday. Attorneys for Beebe said in a statement that "all parties compromised."
Superior Court Judge Joseph Slights III has scheduled a Nov. 13 hearing to consider the fairness of the settlement.
The plan submitted to the court provides for claimants to be separated into five categories, based upon the harm suffered and the need for continued therapy. Children within each category will receive the same compensation, but it's unclear what the range of payments could be among categories or how many families will get money.
The fund will administered by Thomas Rutter, a former Pennsylvania judge who served as a settlement arbitrator in the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington's bankruptcy. The diocese sought bankruptcy protection in 2009 because of liabilities stemming from child abuse by pedophile priests.
Rutter will be assisted by Dr. Anne Steinberg, a Pennsylvania pediatrician and child forensic psychiatrist.
Bradley was arrested in December 2009 after a young girl complained to her mother after an office visit that he had hurt her. Investigators searched Bradley's Lewes office complex, decorated with Disney characters and miniature amusement park rides, and seized scores of homemade videos showing children, mostly toddlers, being molested.
Bradley was convicted last year by a judge who viewed more than 13 hours of videos showing sex crimes against more than 80 victims. He waived his right to a jury trial after the judge denied a motion to suppress the video evidence because it had been illegally seized.
The Delaware Supreme Court last month upheld Bradley's conviction, rejecting his challenge to the search warrant. Bradley's public defenders have said they will not file any further appeals on his behalf, meaning a federal court review is unlikely.
Investigations ordered by Delaware's governor and attorney general after Bradley's arrest found that medical society officials, individual doctors and the Delaware Department of Justice violated state law by not reporting possible unprofessional behavior to the medical licensing board. The board itself was criticized for failing to act on information it did receive about Bradley.
State lawmakers subsequently passed several bills tightening regulation of doctors and clarifying obligations of the medical and law-enforcement communities to report and communicate about suspected physician misconduct and child abuse.