Michigan abuse case has parallels to Delaware one

DOVER — Even though the names and setting are different, this story is a story Delaware knows too well.

The case of Larry Nassar, the Michigan doctor who molested gymnasts for years, is quite similar to that of Earl Bradley, the former Sussex County pediatrician who sexually abused more than 100 children.

Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to up to 175 years in prison.

“You do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again,” the judge told Nassar. “I just signed your death warrant.”

Bradley is serving 14 life sentences for what he did.

“You will serve the remaining years of your life in jail,” said Judge William C. Carpenter when he sentenced Bradley in 2011 in Sussex County. “It is a fair and just sentence for the crimes you have committed.”

In both cases, there were parental feelings of guilt that something like this could happen. People wondered, how could this have happened?

“I willingly took my most precious gift in this world to you, and you hurt her, physically, mentally and emotionally. And she was only 8,” Anne Swinehart told Nassar in pre-sentencing testimony this past week. “I will never get rid of the guilt that I have about this experience.”

As did the judge in Michigan, Delaware’s Judge Carpenter urged victims not to blame themselves for Bradley’s acts.

“You and your children have done nothing wrong,” he said.


Delaware’s attorney general at the time was Beau Biden.

After his death, the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children was formed and dedicated to ending abuse.

“There are parallels between the USA Gymnastics case and the child abuse case Beau prosecuted against a Delaware pediatrician,” a post on the Biden Foundation’s Facebook page said a few days ago.

“It’s a chilling reminder — 90 percent of child sexual abuse is committed by offenders known to the child, and many times known and trusted by their families. We must continue to train adults and community members on how to eliminate risks to children. We must also empower young people and give them the skills to report this is happening to them.

“Victims need to be given a voice, and supported when they use that voice. No child should ever live in fear.”


Thinking about the Nassar and Bradley cases, this editor called up a 2012 From the Editor column on the subject. It read:

The simple message is this: Recognize it. Report it.

In the wake of the high-profile child sexual abuse cases of Jerry Sandusky in Pennsylvania and Earl Bradley in Delaware, so many people wonder why someone did not step in sooner.

“With this entire tragedy that has unfolded at Penn State, we have a moment in time here that the eyes of the nation are focused on an issue of incredible importance ­— that’s how to better protect children,” said Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.

The special investigation news Thursday from Pennsylvania only served to more deeply drive home the point to Delawareans who already experienced the horrors of what Bradley did in Lewes.

Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach, was convicted of 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys.

Bradley, a pediatrician who used his practice to abuse and videotape his victims, was found guilty of 24 counts of abusing children, some as young as 2 years old.

There was a decade of abuse in both cases. The investigations made it clear that opportunities were missed to stop both men earlier.

The most shared line from Louis Freeh’s investigation in the Penn State case of Sandusky centered on those who knew and who could have intervened earlier.

“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,” Mr. Freeh’s findings said. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

Attorney General Biden and others in our state have been on a mission to inform Delaware adults that it is the law to

Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III

speak up whenever there is suspected abuse.

Delaware law, as of 2010, says that if you have a reason to suspect that a child is being abused or neglected and do not make a report to the Child Abuse and Neglect Report Line, you could face a civil penalty.

It carries a fine of up to $10,000 for the first violation and up to $50,000 for subsequent violations.

Attorney General Biden rattled off the statistics that make it important for citizens to understand the enormity of the issue: one of every four girls and one of every six boys are victims of sexual assault; only one in 10 will report it; and “nine out of 10 say the people they love are doing it.”

The children, whether they are 2 or 14 years old, cannot be expected to speak for themselves, he said.

“Children need the eyes and ears of adults, protecting them, especially in the face of these awful numbers we see,” said Attorney General Biden.

“The important, critical piece is that every citizen is responsible,” he said. “We’re taught so much in society sometimes to mind our own business, that good fences make good neighbors,” he added. “This is an area where I beg to differ. This is an area where a child’s welfare is all of our business. A child’s safety is all of our business. That’s what we have a need to communicate.”


Call the Child Abuse and Neglect Report Line at (800) 292-9582 to make a report.

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