AP Exclusive: Predator pediatrician aided charity

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Posted: Aug 25, 2011 2:22 PM
AP Exclusive: Predator pediatrician aided charity

Former Delaware pediatrician Earl Bradley, a convicted child rapist who sexually molested scores of young patients for more than a decade, is also a benefactor of a foundation that he helped establish to assist families grieving the loss of a child.

Years before he was arrested in December 2009, Bradley helped members of his family set up a foundation to help pay funeral expenses for families suffering the loss of a newborn or stillborn baby.

The Associated Press learned of Bradley's links to the foundation through prison visitor logs, which the AP obtained after successfully challenging the Department of Correction's denial of a Freedom of Information Act request.

The gray-bearded former doctor is scheduled to be sentenced Friday by Judge William Carpenter Jr. in Sussex County Superior Court. He faces a mandatory life sentence for each of 14 convictions for first-degree rape _ the outcome of a one-day trial in June in which a police investigator described to Carpenter how Bradley covertly videotaped naked patients during exams and recorded himself raping young victims and forcing them to perform oral sex.

Bradley, 58, was also convicted on multiple counts of second-degree assault and sexual exploitation of a child in cases that mostly involved toddlers.

These days, Bradley spends his time alone, reading and watching TV, in his state prison cell in Smyrna. Occasionally he receives visits. The prison visitor logs show that the only people other than attorneys and other professionals who have visited Bradley in prison have been family members.

Bradley's sister Lisa Caruso and niece Cheri Caruso have been his most frequent visitors. His half-sister and former office assistant, Lynda Barnes, also has visited along with her husband.

Cheri Caruso is chairwoman of a Pennsylvania-based foundation, which Bradley helped set up, that assists with funeral expenses for families who have experienced the loss of a newborn or stillborn baby.

The Arrianna Rose Foundation was established in 2005 with Bradley's help by Caruso's sister, Michelle McAdoo, who had given birth to a stillborn daughter, Arrianna Rose, in 2002.

Cheri Caruso, who took over leadership of the foundation after her sister's death in 2007, declined to speak with the AP about the foundation or her visits to Bradley.

"I really don't have anything to say to you," she told a reporter in a brief telephone call this week before hanging up.

Lisa Caruso did not return telephone messages left at her home.

Terri Wyatt, a liaison to the foundation for Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, the Sussex County town where Bradley once worked, said the foundation has helped at least 20 Beebe families.

Wyatt said she was approached several years ago by Barnes, who was then working for Bradley, and told about the family's efforts to start the foundation.

"They wanted to do something very positive in Arrianna's name," explained Wyatt, an instructor at Beebe School of Nursing and coordinator of pregnancy loss support services at Beebe Medical Center.

"I know Dr. Bradley was one of the contributors and assisted Michelle in helping set up the foundation," Wyatt said. "He had set up the Baybees Children's Foundation and had experience in that realm."

Wyatt was referring to Bradley's own charitable organization, which he established in 2002.

According to state Division of Corporation records, the purpose of the Baybees Children's Foundation was "to assist children residing in Sussex County, Delaware in their creative development through exposure to and appreciation of the theater and other creative arts."

It's unclear what efforts Bradley undertook to fulfill his foundation's purpose, but his fondness for theater extended to Broadway. In 2009, he purchased four tickets for a Valentine's Day showing of "Shrek The Musical" in New York City. He had stockpiled theater seats and other equipment at his Lewes office complex with dreams of building his own small cinema.

Dr. Fred Berlin, founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic in Baltimore and an expert in the evaluation and treatment of patients with sexual disorders including pedophilia, said it's not unusual for criminals _ even those such as Bradley, convicted of monstrous crimes _ to have some positive character traits.

"People as human beings are simply not black and white, and somebody who has done something horribly wrong may at some time in their lives done some things that were good," Berlin said.

Berlin said pedophiles, like other people, can vary in character, temperament, personality, and level of consciousness and concern for others.

"Asking what the typical person with pedophilia is like ... is somewhat like asking what the typical person with heterosexuality is like," he said.

Bradley was arrested in December 2009 after a young girl complained to her mother after an office visit that he had hurt her. Investigators executed a search warrant at his Lewis office complex, decorated with Disney characters and miniature amusement park rides, and seized scores of homemade videos. Carpenter found Bradley guilty after conducting a one-day bench trial and reviewing more than 13 hours of homemade videos showing sex crimes against more than 80 children.

Bradley's public defenders presented no defense at his trial, opting instead for a swift verdict so they could more quickly appeal Carpenter's decision to allow the videos to be used as evidence. The defense contends they were improperly seized by investigators acting outside the scope of the search warrant.

Since his arrest, Bradley has been held under maximum security. Prison officials placed him in a cell next to that of another of Delaware's most notorious criminals, Tom Capano. Capano, once a wealthy and politically connected attorney, is serving a life sentence for killing a mistress, former gubernatorial aide Anne Marie Fahey, in 1996.

Wyatt said Cheri Caruso has expressed concerns that her uncle's arrest and conviction could have a negative effect on the work of the Arrianna Rose Foundation, a concern Wyatt shares.

"The Bradley situation has just been tragic for everybody involved," Wyatt said. "I certainly hope that if people hear about the family connection, they don't judge this wonderful fund that has helped so many people."