There will never be real closure in this case

When Delaware Superior Court Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. last week announced a guilty verdict on all 24 charges against former Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley, there was a sense that the worst was over — the doctor accused of sexually assaulting numerous children under his supposed care was going away.

Of course, there is still a sentencing procedure scheduled for Aug. 26, and there is certain to be an appeal filed on behalf of Bradley at some point, but even the ultimate conclusion of those matters won’t truly put to rest the alleged actions of Bradley.

For families directly affected by Bradley’s reported acts, the pain and emotions won’t just go away with a legal conclusion. The nightmares won’t just stop, and life won’t simply go back to what it was before this happened. It will always be a struggle to deal with this, regardless of legal actions.

For those readers who are down on vacation and might be unaware of the Bradley case, we won’t go into all the details in this space. They’ve been reported at length in our paper, and the stories are easily accessed on our Web site. But to offer a brief summary, police recovered and watched more than 13 hours of video recorded by Bradley of his crimes involving young children, with an average age of 3.08 years old. To try to quantify the scope of these crimes, he had originally been indicted on 371 counts, but it was consolidated to 24 during the day-long trial.

“The violence we were seeing was significant,” said Detective Scott Garland of the Delaware State Police’s High Technology Crimes Unit. “In fact, I was not prepared for it. It is a violent, brutal, forced attack.”

Yes, it was heinous. By any definition.

State officials have already reacted to the Bradley case by creating new laws regarding the screening of medical professionals, and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden was a constant presence in the courtroom. This might be an enormous case of closing the barn door after the horse has left, but the state is definitely being responsive.

And that has to continue — particularly for those families most affected by all of this. Counseling must continue to be available for these families as long as they need it, and legislators must continue to work to ensure nothing like this can take place in the future.

The conviction of Earl Bradley is significant, and state law enforcement and legislators have responded to the case in a strong way. But more still has to be done for the future.