BRUCE A. WHIITICK, also known as Bruce A. Whittick-Leary, was born in Camden, New Jersey on December 12, 1947. He served briefly in the United States Air Force, from July 1, 1967 through September 1, 1967, receiving an honorable medical discharge. On January 24, 1975 he was appointed to the Camden Fire Department. He made his home in Pennsauken in the early 1980s. After being sentenced to five years imprisonment on a state felony charge, he was terminated from employment with the Camden Fire Department on May 2, 1986.
Last a resident of Marlton, New Jersey, he passed away on November 25, 1994.
Whether the good Bruce Whittick did as a firefighter is enough to counterbalance the wrong he dis is not for me or anyone walking this earth to say.
Philadelphia Inquirer * August 1, 1986
Prefers Prison Term To A Wait
By Jane M. Von Bergen
Inquirer Staff Writer
When Pennsauken convicted child molester Bruce Whittick and his attorney started counting up the months, it soon became clear. Whittick decided he would rather serve out his five years in a state prison than wait in the county lockup for a bed in New Jersey's overcrowded treatment center for sex offenders. Yesterday, Camden Superior Court Judge A. Donald Bigley agreed. He told Whittick, 37, a former Camden city firefighter, that he could serve his five years in state prison instead of in the Avenel Diagnostic Treatment Center.
"Unfortunately, there's been an explosion of these type of cases," Bigley said during a hearing in Camden's Hall of Justice.
The rising number of sexual-abuse cases involving children and women has resulted in overcrowding at the Avenel center, now operating at double capacity with a 10-month-long waiting list.
Judges have been sentencing sex offenders to treatment, even though no treatment will be available for months. Meanwhile, the sex offenders have had to wait in county jails. Some have sought to be released on bail or to have their sentences changed to probation.
People convicted under New Jersey's Sex Offenders Act may be released, but they must be treated for whatever psychological problems are determined to have led to the sexual offenses. A delay getting into the program means a delay in a prisoner's receiving parole.
The way Whittick's attorney sees it, if the judge sentences Whittick to Avenel, a 10-month wait in the county jail is a violation of his constitutional rights.
"You're making a finding that the person is in need of treatment," said the attorney, Mike Pinsky. He argued that his client should either be released on probation or transferred out of the county jail into state prison.
"They have a right to prompt and effective treatment," Pinsky said. Otherwise, he said, "we're warehousing him in the county jail."
Whittick, a first offender, was sentenced to five years in prison for molesting his ex-girlfriend's two young daughters on various occasions between 1980 and 1984. He probably will be eligible for parole after 15 months in state prison, his attorney and an assistant prosecutor said.
On June 11, Judge Bigley, after reading a psychiatrist's report labeling Whittick "compulsive and obsessive," said the Avenel Diagnostic Treatment Center for sexual offenders would be the best place for Whittick.
Pinsky said yesterday that his client was 85th on the waiting list and that Avenel was now admitting sex offenders sentenced last October.
The average stay at Avenel, factoring in longer sentences given to repeat offenders, is five years, Department of Corrections spokesman James Stabile said.
Whittick appeared before Bigley asking that his sentence be changed. Whittick asked that instead of going to Avenel, he either be sent to state prison or given probation with outpatient treatment.
"If his behavior is compulsive and he can't control himself, he's a danger to society," said Assistant Camden County Prosecutor Joan Spadea, arguing against probation. "If he's on probation, we can't have a 24-hour guard to keep him away from young girls."
Spadea expressed no objection to Whittick's serving out his time in state prison.
"I know I did wrong," Whittick told the judge yesterday. He said the offenses occurred in a troubled time in his life. Since then, he said, he has talked to friends and family and married "a wonderful woman."
"All I need is a chance," Whittick said, smiling. He then kissed his attorney when the judge sentenced him to state prison.
Recently, Bigley said in court, a Sussex County judge ordered a sex offender, 56th on the waiting list, to be admitted immediately to Avenel. But an appellate court told the judge that the offender would have to wait his turn.
And two months ago, another Camden judge, Superior Court Judge Rudolph Rossetti, sparked controversy when he allowed a man convicted of molesting his daughter to be released on bail until he could begin his stay at Avenel.
The man's daughter, still angry and bitter after the years of fondling and sexual abuse, tacked up signs in his neighborhood that read: "WATCH YOUR CHILDREN! A convicted sex offender lives in your neighborhood. ARE YOUR CHILDREN SAFE?"
Rossetti, who ordered the man to see a psychiatrist as a bail condition, would not comment on his ruling at the time. But as he looked at a copy of the handwritten sign, he said, "They're all first offenders, and they need treatment. Sure it's frustrating."
Department of Corrections was working on plans to add 270 beds to
Avenel. The center was designed to house 180 offenders and now houses
about 360. Avenel also is beginning satellite counseling programs in
county jails in Burlington and Middlesex Counties, he said.
|Philadelphia Inquirer * August 4, 1986|
Jail Child Molesters Need Mental Help
By Claude Lewis
Inquirer Editorial Board
WSeveral years ago I covered a court case that involved a young man whose first name is Howard. He was a convicted child molester, having harmed several young children in the Northeast.
Howard, in handcuffs, explained to the judge that something "made" him want to touch very young girls, especially at springtime.
"I don't know what makes me do it," he told the court. "I just can't help myself. Sometimes, before I realize it, I'm doing things that I know are wrong, but I don't know how to stop."
Howard had been arrested and jailed several times for molesting young children, mostly girls. But after each release from prison, he found himself outside some elementary school, Sunday school or playground. He often waited until a child was alone, then he would make his move. Within minutes, some girl, aged 6 or 7, was frightened when Howard put his hands all over her and ran away.
Some of the kids went wailing into their homes. Others remained silent, either too afraid to tell or because they felt guilty.
The judge decided to place Howard on probation when he discovered there was no facility available in Philadelphia to help the young sex offender, who obviously had psychological problems. Jail, the judge properly reasoned, was not the answer. He sentenced Howard to probation and Howard keeled over in the courtroom.
Outside, all along the marble hallways, dozens of mothers stood in their anger screaming and shouting as the defendant walked away.
Several months later, a number of little girls began to complain that a stranger "touched" them. As it turned out, it was Howard, up to his old tricks once again.
Hundreds of women stormed into City Hall to rail against the judge's decision and to seek revenge. This time the judge sentenced the sex offender to a prison term. But Howard remained a problem because he never received adequate help while he was incarcerated.
Last week, in Pennsauken, N.J., 16 years after Howard's initial arrest, another convicted child molester, Bruce Whittick, opted to serve his five-year sentence in a state prison instead of waiting in a county lockup for a bed in New Jersey's overcrowded Avenel Diagnostic Treatment Center, where some sex offenders receive help.
Adequate facilities to treat sex offenders in the Philadelphia region still do not exist. During all that time we have built houses, sports complexes, hotels, parking lots and supermarkets. A race track in the region has been revitalized, new restaurants have sprung up, yet we have not devoted our energies to helping sex offenders who desperately need attention.
We are moving toward construction of a convention center, and the Camden waterfront is being revitalized. All these things are needed, but so is protection for women and children. Some efforts are being made to create new facilities for sex offenders, but there has never been enough money - or interest - to protect the young adequately.
Many New Jersey judges have been sentencing sex offenders to treatment, even though treatment is unavailable for months.
Last week, Whittick, 37, a former Camden city firefighter, was represented by an attorney who successfully argued that locking Whittick up in a county facility for 10 months while he waits for treatment would violate his constitutional rights. The result was that Bruce Whittick, labeled by a psychiatrist as "compulsive and obsessive," was sent to jail where he'll probably serve no more than 15 months. Unless he is an exception, he will not likely receive adequate help in prison.
Psychiatric services must be made available for the many who often traumatize and who sometimes kill. Despite this persistent problem, we remain a society that responds more quickly to the profit motive than to those sick souls who cause irreparable pain and suffering throughout the region.
wonder if we'll ever understand that medicine for the minds of the
Howards and the Whitticks - and many others like them - is at least as
important to protecting the young as prisons that alone can never bring
Philadelphia Inquirer * November 29, 1994
Mr. Whittick-Leary was a salesman for Eastern Siding Corp. in Merchantville and been a firefighter in Camden City Fire Department for 11 years. He also had previously worked for two years in the International Cosmetic Lab in Pennsauken. He served briefly in the Air Force before getting a honorable medical discharge. He was born in Camden.
Survivors: a daughter, Chelsea Lee Whittick; three brothers, Elmer "Pete" Leary of Maple Shade, Luke Lane and Tim Lane, both of Maryland; and three sisters, Patrica Pollock of Marlton, Sheree Buchholtz and Lona Ogg, both of Maryland.
memorial, 8 p.m. today, Inglesby/Givnish's of Maple Shade,
600 E. Main St.