Mind of a Predator
As the nation watches what may be one of the worst cases of sexual abuse of children ever, we wonder: What makes a pedophile? The possibilities will frighten you—but not for the reasons you may think.
(page 1 of 6)
She was a 13-year-old stepdaughter from his third marriage, and in the beginning, he says, the things he did to her didn’t seem so bad.
He told her that he was in pain. Remember my accident in the garden, when you helped pull the splinters from my legs? I am still hurt, and I need you to do these things because they make the pain go away. You make me feel better here. And here. You do it this way…
None of it seemed bad, he says, until a year-and-a-half later, when he began to perform oral sex on her. He looked up at her innocent face as she asked if what they were doing was wrong. It was then, he claims now, that the horror of his actions nearly drove him to suicide.
He is a 56-year-old white man. When he speaks about this period of his life—from a local work release center—he hides his hands. They appear only to relate how remorseful he is for what happened 14 years ago, or when he covers his eyes when he speaks of seeing his stepdaughter again, of telling her that it wasn’t her fault.
He wears oversized spectacles that make his eyes appear like dots, making it impossible to find any clue to understanding what made him sexually abuse a young girl. His body language is a curled tangle of protection that seems to say, “If I could just disappear from this earth, I would.”
In February, Dr. Earl Bradley, a pediatrician, was indicted on 471 counts of sexual crimes against 103 children at his office, BayBees Pediatrics in Lewes. The 160-page indictment by Attorney General Beau Biden’s office accused Bradley, 56, of molesting patients as young as three months. Charges against Bradley include first-degree and second-degree rape. Since his arrest on December 16, he has been held at Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna while awaiting trial. His bail is set at $5.29 million. No local news story in almost 15 years has put people across the country in such a state of shock and anger.
The case has put a public face on a private wound, one that has resided largely in the secret vaults of family histories, in the locked psyches of thousands of victims and in the cold, hard fact that there are more than 2,700 registered sex offenders in Delaware.
What makes them do what they do?
A scan of the state’s Sex Offender Central Registry reveals a long list of sex crimes—pedophilia, rape and incest—committed by people as common as our neighbors, teachers and the counter guy at the deli.
“You can’t generalize sex offenders because they’re as varied as any other cross-section of people,” says Chrysanthi Leon, a sociology professor at the University of Delaware. “What is so disturbing to a lot of people is that we share things in common with them. It would be beneficial if they could be identified as something more than freaks of nature, but the truth is they’re not.”
In her book, “Not Monsters,” Pamela D. Schultz, a professor at Alfred University in New York, categorizes sex offenders as “not aberrations or mutations. They are humans, most frequently men, who are driven to their actions by potent stresses and even more potent messages equating sex with power and control. The impulse that inspires some people to molest children doesn’t suddenly appear out of the blue as an inexplicable, uncontrollable desire. Rather, this impulse is programmed into them—and us.”
Page 2: Mind of Predator, continues...