News · 01/26/2010

David Erlewine on 2009

Contributor David Erlewine (author of “Marionettes” and “who stormed the beaches”) writes in response to our recent question about what sparked imaginations in 2009.

As a father of two young children, I often feel like I am overly protective. Sometimes, my mom chides me for not wanting the kids to play outside with some of our neighbors’ kids who, quite frankly, are animals. Hmm. Let’s say, since I suspect my neighbors follow my short fiction career as closely as my parents and my wife do, that their children are rougher and usually unsupervised.

I know I can’t protect them from everything. I know they are going to get taunted and hurt and cut and heartbroken. I know that for 60 hours a week, while I’m working or going to and from the job, my kids are with someone else. I know things can happen to them and I may not ever even find out.

I try not to obsess but then I’m up visiting in-laws for Christmas and I read a newspaper article about a Delaware pediatrician accused of molesting or raping a number of patients in his office’s basement. Apparently, he would insist that parents needed to stay in the waiting room while he examined their children alone. I don’t know what reason he gave to the parents, probably something about children needing to trust him or being more relaxed under his sole care. Then, purportedly, he took the children down to the basement and did all kinds of things to them while their parents read old magazines.

Had I been one of those parents, I would be a wreck for the rest of my life. This is why I tell my children not to trust any adults fully, even their teachers or friends’ parents. This is the reason that I do not want my children sleeping over at friends’ houses often, if ever. This is why I feel okay being a paranoid crank who may have watched Mystic River one too many times and sees such animals in grocery stores and on running trails and at work. I trust almost no one. I am okay with that. I’m not sure I’m raising happy and sweet children. I may be making them as paranoid as me. My son says sometimes that if a stranger comes up to him my son will punch him in the face until he’s all bloody and crying. He laughs when he says it, but I know he knows that strangers can, and sometimes will, do horrible things to him. My son is 5.

Court documents, according to news reports, said that from the good doctor in Delaware, cops seized at least six cameras, 100 DVDs and VHS tapes, dozens of reel-to-reel films and a small computer data storage device that contained videos of multiple forced sexual acts with child patients (some infants) — including intercourse, oral sex and fondling.

Several of the videos, court documents say, show the doctor, in blue scrubs, yelling orders at the toddlers, some of whom are crying or trying to run away. In one video, according to the court papers, Dr. Bradley has a “violently enraged” expression on his face.

I am sad for those children, sad beyond explanation. I am sad for their parents. I have no doubt some of them will feel shame for the rest of their lives every day, sometimes just looking at the faces of their children. Sometimes, I look at my children and think about this story. Last I heard, the good doctor was on suicide watch. If the allegations about what he did are true, maybe the final act of 56-year old Dr. Bradley will be a good one.