W&M custodian found not guilty of sexually assaulting co-worker

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The alleged assault took place June 15 inside one of the classrooms in Andrews Hall on the William & Mary campus. (Adrienne Berard/WYDaily)
The alleged assault took place June 15 inside one of the classrooms in Andrews Hall on the William & Mary campus. (Adrienne Berard/WYDaily)

Following several hours of testimony Thursday, Bruce Bartlett, a former custodial worker at the College of William & Mary, was found not guilty of sexual battery in a June 15 incident involving a fellow custodian.

In Thursday’s ruling, WJCC General District Judge Colleen Killilea said she took issue with arguments put forward by both the prosecution and defense.

“There are inconsistencies on both sides in this case,” Killilea said. “I am required to resolve those inconsistencies in favor of the defense.”

According to court records, Bartlett, 54 of Williamsburg, was arrested June 25 on charges of sexual battery after a fellow custodian, employed by an outside temp agency, reported that during a shift Bartlett had “made several lewd comments towards her and at one point grabbed both her wrist[s] with his hands and pulled her towards him.”

“In doing so,” the records stated. “He forced her to touch his erect genitals through his pants.”

Throughout the duration of Thursday’s hearing, Bartlett’s attorney, George Brooks, raised questions about the credibility and character of the female accuser.

During cross examination, Brooks brought up a prior criminal conviction and asked the woman why she did not immediately report the Bartlett incident to college police, suggesting her past experience with law enforcement may have influenced her decision. Records show the woman gave an official statement to WMPD on June 22, a week after the alleged assault occurred.

The woman responded that she was worried the allegation would jeopardize her employment.

“I was afraid because I was a new person there,” she said. “He was there longer than me and my boss would probably have sided with him.”

Brooks went on to point out a discrepancy between the investigator’s notes and a written statement the woman provided to police, which he dramatized by pulling a jar from his pocket that appeared to contain a small sausage and reciting a quote from the woman’s deposition to investigators, in which she said that Bartlett had referred to his genitalia as a “sausage.”

The central discrepancy in the case was related to the room in which the alleged incident occurred, specifically the order in which Bartlett and the woman entered said room. The investigator’s notes stated that the woman had entered the room first and Bartlett had followed. The woman’s written account stated that she had entered the room and found Bartlett there.

“Despite her many options, she chose to take her break in the same room as Bartlett,” Brooks said in a motion to strike the woman’s testimony. During testimony, the woman alleged Bartlett made lewd remarks at her earlier in the day, before she entered the room where the incident occurred.

“I was trying not to pay him no mind. I was trying to tune him out,” the woman said, describing finding Bartlett in the room and the alleged assault that followed. “Everything went by so fast. I pulled back and I told him if he doesn’t stop, I’m gonna scream.”

Throughout various points in her testimony, the woman broke down in tears.

“Why you go and sit in a room with a person who has harassed you is beyond me,” Brooks said. “And the excuse she made for not reporting to the College of William & Mary for fear of losing her job also doesn’t make sense. She’s working in an environment where everywhere you look there are signs that say ‘report sexual assault.’”

Bartlett was the final witness to take the stand. He kept his testimony short, denying all allegations and claiming he did not see the woman on the day the incident allegedly took place.

He did say that he had spoken with the woman, but it was only to let her know that he was concerned she might lose her job, that the college’s custodial department could decide to replace her with a fulltime employee. He said he offered to help her find other employment.

“I gave her a blue folder with job things in it,” Bartlett said.

In his closing argument, Brooks alleged that the woman had invented the assault in an effort to get Barlett fired and take his position.

“There’s a motive,” he said. “She’s worried she’s going to lose her job. What better way to get one?”

Note: As an editorial policy, WYDaily does not identify victims or alleged victims of sexual assault.