Pedophile Pediatricians Remain in Shadows

The case of Dr. Earl Bradley follows a pattern: whispers in the community, sporadic complaints to authority, and no action.

"She just came out and said, 'Why did Dr. Bradley kiss my tongue?'" said one mother, who called the police that day.

That day was five years ago, when her daughter was three years old. She is one of half-a-dozen parents CBS News interviewed who know their children were molested and asked their identities be concealed.

"The state prosecutors felt that there wasn't enough evidence to charge him or to go in with a search warrant," said a mother. "It was devastating."

The shock and anger that has cast a dark cloud over this town is not confined to Lewes, Delaware, reports CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford. In doctor's offices in other towns in other cities across America there are predators that parents trust to heal their children, not to hurt them.

Over the last decade alone, in states across the country, nearly 20 pediatricians have been charged with abusing children. Those are the criminal cases, but most complaints never get past state medical boards.

Pediatrician Eli Newberger is a professor at Harvard Medical School. He compares pediatric child abuse to the priest scandal that rocked the Catholic Church.

"We're dealing, I think, with a systemic problem, in which there is a reluctance to act on the part of colleagues for the various business and collegial reasons, and an organized cover-up," Newberger said.

Just last October, Michael Roy Sharpe was charged with raping a patient - a teenage girl. He had been fired from two hospitals in Tennessee after accusations of sexual misconduct, but he was never disciplined by medical authorities and set up practice in Alabama.

Colleagues of Dr. Robert Marion in South Carolina allegedly had heard complaints about him abusing children, but they simply asked him to leave the practice. He moved into another office in the same building and kept many of his same patients. They never knew about his predatory behavior until he was charged with abusing four children.

"If the perpetrator is one of their colleagues and the reporting would ruin that man's life and career, they would much sooner not report even if it endangered children," Newberger said.

"There is a code of silence," said attorney Craig Karsnitz. "And I think that code was upheld to the nth degree in this case."

Karsnitz, Bruce Hudson and Ben Castle represent parents whose children were allegedly molested by Bradley. They say doctors and nurses at Baybees Pediatrics and at the local medical center knew or suspected for years that Bradley was abusing patients.

"If just one could've stepped forward, then all of the girls that were victims after that could have been spared," Hudson said.

Bradley's alleged crimes range from oral sex to rape. His alleged victims were as young as two years old. His office building had an elaborate videotaping system. Police have shown parents still photos pulled from the videos to identify the 103 victims. Child advocates hope the Delaware case will raise awareness about a problem hidden for far too long.
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    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.

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