Parents: Minimizing One-on-One Adult-Child Interactions Good Way to Keep Your Child Safe

Even after working in this field for years, some cases, like the recent one of Delaware accused child rapist and pediatrician Dr. Earl Bradley, still have the power to surprise me with the amount of heartrending horror, shock and disgust they produce.  I am continually amazed, too, at parents who would leave their children alone in a doctor’s office, even with a pediatrician.

It is an ironic and cruel twist that many of these heinous and brutal crimes are being discovered thanks to the dimwitted perpetrators’ use of video cameras to document their sexual assaults of innocent babies and children.

Bradley, 56, is accused of raping at least nine baby girls – the youngest 3 months’ old, and the oldest only 13 years old.  Only one girl, a two-year-old, told an adult about the abuse, prompting the investigation.  As the seized digital evidence of the assaults is analyzed, more child victims are being found.

According to Courier Post Online:”Forensic evaluation of seized video files and software has to date discovered 15 more unidentified victims,” state police Detective Thomas Elliott wrote in an affidavit Friday seeking a search warrant for BayBees Pediatrics, the name of Bradley’s practice.

“Due to the slow and meticulous process of computer forensics, [police believe] more victims will be discovered in the electronic files of Dr. Bradley and the patient records will help confirm the identity.”

The videos were filmed between Aug. 7 and Dec. 13, police wrote. Several videos allegedly showed the doctor wearing his blue scrubs and barking orders at babies and toddlers, some of whom were crying or trying to run away. In one video, Bradley had a “violently enraged” expression on his face, police wrote.

Officers found six hand-held video cameras in the BayBees complex, which included Disney-themed examination rooms, a basement toy room and an adjoining garage, where he often took children to give them candy, ice cream or other treats — all places where police said he committed and filmed sex acts.

People often tell me that they simply cannot imagine in their worst nightmares that a respected pediatrician would rape little babies.  However, 96% of child rapes, according to the Department of Justice, are committed by trusted people, and often include teachers, coaches, clergy, pediatricians, dentists, day care providers, babysitters, psychologists, relatives, and even police.

In fact, Bradley is not the first pediatrician to be caught this year.  Fairfield, Ohio, pediatrician Dr. R. Scott Blankenburg, 53, was charged earlier this year on 22 counts of child sex crime and child pornography charges, and was recently arrested again in December on additional counts of sexual abuse, bribery, and complicity to deception to obtain dangerous drugs (heroin). His twin brother and fellow pediatrician, Dr. Mark Blankenburg, was found guilty earlier this month, on 16 sexual abuse charges involving three former patients and five counts of drug trafficking and one count of money laundering. He had a longtime practice in Hamilton, Ohio, and still faces a trial on 12 counts of child pornography in May.

Under no circumstances should a parent ever leave a child alone in with a doctor, dentist, teacher, coach, clergy or other adult.  In fact, Darkness to Light, a respected non-profit working to stop child sexual abuse, has stated that minimizing one-on-one interactions between adults and children is a key way to prevent child sexual abuse.

As in the case of Aaron Zendejas, a San Diego babysitter who sold a 3-year-old child to a child molester, and then filmed the rape of the child, there are precious few completely “safe” one-on-one adult/child situations for children anymore.  Although we have the ability to track down many of the offenders who trade in images of child sexual abuse, our ICAC task forces only have enough funding to capture less than 1% of known offenders.

Parents must wake up to the realities that child molesters look just like everyone else, and seek professions where they may gain the trust of adults and children.  Parents must be vigilant in minimizing the one-on-one interactions of their children with adults and even older children as much as possible in order to keep their children safe.

Author:  Heather Steele, President & CEO, Innocent Justice

Dec, 31, 2009

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