Before Jerry Sandusky grabbed headlines with allegations he’d sexually abused boys while Penn State University officials looked the other way, there were the headlines about pediatrician Earl Bradley, and questions about why years of complaints never revealed his sexual abuse of his patients.
They weren’t the only examples Delawareans have seen in which people trusted to care for children were found to have abused them. There were the allegations of decades of abuse by priests in the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington. Teachers too showed up in headlines: high school Principal Dana Goodman, convicted of raping a student; math teacher Umar Ahmad, convicted of rape of an eighth grader; high school football coach Thomas Ott, sentenced to 17 years in prison for raping a teen, are just some examples.
But from the grim headlines, children’s advocates say they’ve found hope that the changes spurred by the scandals will make it more difficult for future pedophiles to molest children and go undetected.
“It’s very much front-of-mind because of the recent scandals,” said The Rev. Jeffrey A. Ross, a pastor at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lewes, where some congregants sent their children to Bradley for checkups. “The most important thing is to talk openly about it and make sure that institutions are constantly vigilant.”
In the wake of the Bradley case, many institutions in the state retooled to make spotting and stopping child sex abuse a priority. Lawmakers revamped Delaware’s child protection and disciplinary laws, adding measures to increase reporting of abuse allegations. Gov. Jack Markell, who signed those bills into law, called the Penn State abuses “unimaginable.”
“To the extent that people have additional ideas about what we can do and should be doing to keep kids safe, we want to hear about it,” Markell said Thursday.
Last September, the Delaware Attorney General’s office, along with the YMCA of Delaware and Prevent Child Abuse Delaware announced a five-year initiative to train 35,000 people over the next five years on how to prevent, recognize and report child sexual abuse, using the the nationally recognized Stewards of Children curriculum.
Read the rest of the article at delawareonline.
Written by Kelly Bothum & James Fisher, The News Journal