Edward Bullock's death brought mixed feelings to the man who accused him of committing sexual assault decades ago.
"I am relieved a dangerous predator is no longer a threat to society but distraught that a serial pedophile has once again been able to evade
justice," said the accuser, who last summer faced the sheriff from the witness stand and testified about being raped in a car while in custody when he was about 10 years old.
"I hope Edward Bullock suffered an agonizing, slow and painful death and burns in hell for eternity for what he did to me and the other victims."
Bullock died Monday at the age of 86, according to his attorney, Brian Corley White.
He served as warren county'ssheriff from 1982 to 1991, but spent his final years fighting criminal and civil claims that during his tenure he would groom young boys in custody for sexual relationships.
A criminal trial ended with a hung jury in July, and a retrial was planned for February. Two civil suits against the county related to Bullock's tenure are still pending.
White said Bullock's family is planning private services and did not wish to comment.
Rise and fall
Bullock was a 1946 graduate of Phillipsburg Catholic High School and served in the Army from 1951 to 1953, according to The Express-Times archives.
He worked for a time at a youth correctional facility in Hunterdon County, and spent 18 years as a constable in the Warren County Court House before being promoted to undersheriff in 1979.
In 1982, Gov. Tom Kean appointed the 51-year-old Lopatcong Township resident sheriff following the resignation of Bullock's predecessor, Kenneth Gaylord. Bullock won a full term later that year, and ran three more successful campaigns on the Republican ticket.
But within weeks of winning his fourth term in 1991, Bullock abruptly resigned. "I'm just completely stressed," he told a reporter, days after plainclothes New Jersey State Police detectives visited his office.
After months of speculation, it was revealed in early 1992 that Bullock, then 63, was the subject of a state police sting in which he reportedly tried to curry sexual favors from a trooper posing as a sexually abused 17-year-old boy.
That April, Bullock pleaded guilty to official misconduct and was imprisoned for nine months.
In 2012, a tort claim was filed that claimed the former sheriff abused a young boy in the 1980s and that the county covered it up.
A formal suit was filed in 2013 as a criminal investigation was opened against Bullock, who was living in Ocean County. Bullock was indicted on six counts of sexual assault in early 2014.
Warren County First Assistant Prosecutor Michael McDonald led the case against Bullock when it went to trial this past July in Hunterdon County.
Though many records from the time were destroyed per retention protocols, the prosecution dug up old log books and got testimony from former officers and a dispatcher to show that Bullock picked up the accuser from Hackettstown police on Jan. 7, 1988.
Bullock allegedly drove the boy, alone, to a county youth shelter, stopping along the way to commit sexual acts. The accuser is not being identified by due to the nature of the charges.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict and the case was declared a mistrial.
A February retrial was planned. But with Bullock's death, all that remains is a hearing to formally dismiss the criminal charges.
"I feel for the victim," McDonald said Wednesday. "But I'm glad we at least gave him his day in court.
"He did have his opportunity to tell his story to the jury," he said, "which hopefully helps give him some closure."
Civil cases remain
A second civil suit with similar allegations was filed this year before the criminal trial began.
Both lawsuits had been stayed while the criminal case proceeded. But with that now concluding they will be able to advance, said Brad Russo, the attorney representing both victims. Russo said the mistrial will not impact the civil cases, which accuse the county of covering up Bullock's alleged misdeeds.
The accuser on Wednesday said he is ready for the civil proceedings and to "speak out" against the county and anyone who allowed abuse to happen.
"I look forward to the civil trial now that county officials can no longer continue with their flagrant attempts to delay and avoid accountability," he said.
"The truth is horrific but shall be forthcoming soon."