Steve Novak, 2nd child sex abuse lawsuit filed against ex-sheriff, Warren County, Lehigh Valley Live

A new lawsuit alleges Warren County knew about an ex-sheriff’s sexual transgressions with young boys and allowed it to happen — the second such civil action to be filed in three years.

While the document does not mention him by name, the accusations closely mirror criminal charges faced by former sheriff Edward Bullock, who is scheduled to be tried this month.

The lawsuit, filed June 22 in state Superior Court in Belvidere, references “John Doe 1” as being the county sheriff in 1988 and ’89, and pleading guilty in 1992 to a criminal charge of official misconduct related to sexual allegations — both of which match Bullock’s history.

Notice of the first lawsuit, which preceded the criminal charges the 86-year-old Ocean County resident now faces, was filed in 2012. It claims the victim, identified only as W.M., was a 10-year-old boy who was repeatedly abused and raped at least once by a county employee in 1987 and ’88, including while being transported by the employee to a county-run youth shelter in Oxford Township.

New, but similar, allegations

The most recent lawsuit has much of the same claims. This victim, identified as C.C., was 14 and 15 years old and under the county’s care during four encounters with the sheriff, the lawsuit says.

The first incident began with the sheriff selecting C.C. from a group of boys being held in a cell at the Warren County Courthouse, bringing him back to his office and giving him backrubs, the lawsuit says. The sheriff volunteered to drive the teen to the Warren Acres juvenile detention center, parked the car on the side of the road and fondled the boy, the document alleges.

The abuse allegedly became more sexual with each encounter. C.C. reported it to a Warren Acres employee, the lawsuit says, but was yelled at and told to “stop looking for attention.”

After another dealing with the sheriff, the teen ran away from the shelter after realizing “the staff either did not believe or would not take action to prevent further abuse,” the lawsuit says. He was eventually detained by police, had another court hearing and was again driven to Warren Acres by the sheriff, who sexually abused him on the way, the suit alleges.

The teen later tried to commit suicide by swallowing all the pills in a bottle, was hospitalized and sent to a behavioral health center, the lawsuit says.

The suit seeks various damages. It levies five claims against the sheriff, including sexual abuse of a child and battery and assault. It also accuses Warren County in four counts, including negligence. The sheriff’s actions, the suit alleges, were well-known to county employees.

“It’s what the county knew, what they didn’t know, what they should have done to protect these kids,” said C.C.’s attorney, Brad Russo.

Criminal case up first

In the criminal case, Bullock faces three counts each of aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault when his trial begins July 20. He could face a sentence of up to 90 years in prison if convicted.

Bullock remains free on $100,000 bail.

Russo, the attorney who represents the plaintiffs in both lawsuits, said the civil cases by judge’s order will not proceed until the criminal charges are concluded. When that is done, the civil cases may be consolidated, he said.

First Assistant Prosecutor Michael McDonald said the criminal case is moving forward. Bullock’s attorney, Brian Corley White, could not be reached for comment.

The county’s attorney, Joseph Bell, also did not return a call, and Freeholder Director Ed Smith declined to speak about the most recent lawsuit.

Bullock resigned in 1992 after admitting he tried to curry sexual favors from a state trooper posing as a teenage boy in a sting operation. He pleaded guilty to sex-related official misconduct and served nine months in the Hunterdon County jail.

Bullock reportedly told state investigators he had sexual contact with eight juvenile boys he met at Warren Acres but was never charged with any wrongdoing related to it.

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