A paediatrician accused of sexually abusing his young patients – some as young as six months – is believed to have attacked more than 100 children.
Dr Earl Bradley is said to have filmed some of the shocking attacks at an office he decked out with a merry-go-round and a Ferris wheel.
The volume of evidence seized from Bradley’s practice and home, including videotapes and computer files, made it difficult to estimate the number of victims, said Alexis Slutsky, a deputy attorney general assigned to Delaware’s Child Predator Task Force.
“I’m comfortable in saying probably well over 100 potential victims,” she said at a news conference with attorney general Beau Biden and other law enforcement officials.
Ms Slutsky said the investigation was focusing on cases between 1998 and the present.
The investigation has also spread to Florida and New Jersey, where Bradley also held medical licences.
Bradley, 56, was arrested last week and is being held on £1.8m (€2m) bond. He has been charged with 33 felony counts relating to seven victims.
A preliminary hearing yesterday was postponed until January 14. His lawyer, Eugene Maurer, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Stacy Cohee, a deputy attorney general, said Bradley was not brought to the court for the hearing because corrections officials were “concerned about his mental state right now”, adding that there were concerns he was suicidal.
The case has shocked the close-knit community of Lewes, a town of about 3,100 on the Delaware coast. The case is even more chilling because some alleged victims are no more than six months old.
“It’s horrific,” said Wallace Hudson, vice president of Beebe Medical Centre just streets from Bradley’s home. Bradley had privileges at the hospital which were immediately suspended when he was arrested.
Pennsylvania’s state board of medicine also announced an immediate temporary suspension of Bradley’s licence there.
Police say Bradley used video cameras to record some of the alleged attacks.
An 18-page document detailed the alleged attacks in examination rooms, which had Disney themes such as Pinocchio, at BayBees Paediatrics, Bradley’s solo practice.
A detective who viewed the assaults described in court papers the 6ft, 16-stone Bradley as having a “violently enraged expression on his face” in one video involving a two-year-old.
Bradley’s office was known for its many toys and the rides he had in front. Yesterday, the deserted office looked more like a small run-down carnival, including a small merry-go-round and Ferris wheel. A pink sign in front of one building read: “Princess Parking only. All Others will be toad.”
Mr Hudson said Bradley had been in the area since 1994.
He said the hospital has arranged for counselling for patients and their parents and doctors who already had full practices had arranged to take Bradley’s patients.
Mike Duckworth, treasurer of the Bethel United Methodist Church near Bradley’s home, said the charges had brought “a lot of shock” in the neighbourhood and to the parents of children in the church’s pre-school programme.
“There was a time when Dr Bradley was the new and exciting paediatrician in town,” Mr Duckworth said.
Mr Duckworth said his granddaughter had two appointments with Bradley, but his daughter decided to get a new doctor after Bradley asked to see the girl alone.
“There was a point in the examination when he wanted to take my granddaughter away and my daughter wouldn’t let him do that,” Mr Duckworth said.
The alleged crimes cited in court papers happened between August and December. Police said they learned of the alleged abuse when a two-year-old girl told her mother that the doctor had hurt her during a December 7 appointment.
The News Journal of Wilmington cited a detective’s sworn statement that said investigation of seized video files and software had discovered 15 more unidentified victims.