Warren County settles lawsuit with child sex abuse victim who says county failed to protect him
Warren County has settled a child sex abuse lawsuit filed by a man who says he was raped by the former sheriff. The victim claims that county officials failed to act on concerns about the sheriff’s behavior. The settlement came as jurors were deliberating.
Several jurors tell Kane In Your Corner they were disappointed that the case was settled because they hoped to hold the county responsible.
The sex abuse allegations were the subject of a 2021 Kane In Your Corner investigation titled “Justice Delayed.” Several men said that, as boys, they were raped by former Warren County Sheriff Edward Bullock while in custody at the county’s youth shelter and juvenile detention facilities. The lawsuit that was settled was filed by one of those alleged victims, identified in court only as W.M.
The settlement came after nearly three weeks of testimony. Several former shelter workers testified that they reported concerns about Bullock's behavior, only to be rebuffed by supervisors.
Several jurors, who asked to be identified only by their first names, said they were leaning strongly toward finding in W.M.’s. favor.
MORE: 'When you're raped at 11, you don't forget it.' Jury begins deliberations in Warren County sex abuse lawsuit
MORE: Former juvenile detention facility administrator says he had no knowledge of alleged sex abuse
“We wanted to send a message that we believe W.M.,” said one juror named Kelly. “I said a couple of times in the jury room that he could have been the person to identify a cure for cancer, but we as a community lost that because the county didn’t follow through on its obligation to make sure he was safe and cared for.”
The attorney for Warren County argued the county had no control over the former sheriff because he was an elected official and noted that no one had witnessed abuse.
The county also produced an expert, who argued W.M. was already so troubled, that being raped may not have made him any worse.
It’s a tactic that only made jurors angry.
“I think it totally backfired,” Kelly said. “His life was never going to be a walk in the park, but it was made so much more difficult and brutal by the actions of the sheriff. It just broke my heart.”
Neither the county attorney, W.M. or his attorneys commented on the settlement. Terms were not released. Jurors we spoke to say they hope it was enough to give W.M. a fresh start.
“I’m just really happy that W.M seems really happy,” said juror Geneva, “and I think that’s the most important thing, and that we’re sending the message that we can’t let this happen.”
“To just settle it was frustrating,” said juror Sarah, “but I’m glad to see W.M. did walk out of the courthouse and looked a little bit lighter. So, I was happy to see that.”
This is the first of three lawsuits filed against Warren County. The lawsuits filed by C.C. and R.M., two of Bullock’s other alleged victims, are scheduled to go to court later this year.