$123 Million Deal Approved in Doctor's Sex-Abuse Case

8:31 AM, Nov 20, 2012   |    comments
Pediatrician Earl Bradley, shown Dec. 18, 2009 in police custody. Under the Nov. 19, 2012 settlement's terms, the money would be put into a pool for victims, similar to the system used for victims in priest sex-abuse cases. (Gannett, Gary Emeigh/The News Journal/File)
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By ESTEBAN PARRA -- The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal

GEORGETOWN, Del. -- A Superior Court judge has approved a $123 million class-action settlement related to the child sexual abuse committed by former Lewes, Del., pediatrician Earl Bradley.

Under the Monday settlement's terms, the money would be put into a pool for victims, similar to the system used for victims in priest sex-abuse cases.

A mediator will evaluate each claim and separate them into different categories based on the severity of abuse. A settlement amount then will be assigned to each category and all approved for that category will be paid.

"The approval of this class-action settlement marks the end of litigation arising from Dr. Bradley's 15-year reign of terror and abuse in Sussex County," Superior Court Judge Joseph R. Slights III wrote in his 56-page decision.

"Although no amount of monetary or nonmonetary compensation can atone for Dr. Bradley's atrocities, the settlement approved today provides Dr. Bradley's victims with means by which to facilitate the healing process," Slights said. "It is not for this court to tell this class of innocent victims, or the greater Sussex County community, how to go about the physical, emotional and spiritual healing that all who have followed this case so sincerely wish for these children and their families."

The settlement pool will be financed by Beebe Medical Center's insurance carriers, $111.8 million; the hospital, $8.2 million; and other defendants, $3.2 million). The Lewes hospital, which had employed Bradley, was accused of failing to report his behavior to authorities following an investigation in 1996.

Bradley was convicted in August 2011 of multiple counts of child rape involving his young patients and sentenced to 14 life terms plus 164 years in prison. He documented his crimes on videos -- sometimes involving children that were only months old -- that he stored at his pediatrics office. Police discovered the recordings and used them as evidence against him.

Ben T. Castle, a lawyer representing the victims, said they still were working through Slights' opinion.

"We're pleased to finally get to this point, and hopefully these victims will be seeing some compensation fairly soon," Castle said.

"We are gratified that the court found in the way that it did," said Michael M. Mustokoff, who represented Beebe hospital.

Other lawyers declined comment or could not be reached.

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