Man accused in Orlando attack was on probation for battery when he committed 1986 sexual assault in Jacksonville

In 1986 a woman reported Bruce Whitehead raped her, but he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and served 35 days

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Court records show there is the potential third victim tied to a man described as a “brutal rapist” who has a criminal history in Jacksonville.

Bruce Whitehead was arrested Thursday in the Orlando area and accused of kidnapping, raping and trying to kill a woman. The charges come months after Whitehead was released from state custody when doctors said he no longer posed a risk.

According to court transcripts, in 1986 a woman reported Whitehead raped her, but he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery charges and served 35 days. A week after he was released, while he was on probation, records show, he kidnapped another woman at knifepoint in Jacksonville, assaulted her and stabbed her 25 times.

MORE: I-TEAM digs into past of convicted rapist who was released from prison early, arrested again

Whitehead has been in state custody nearly all his whole adult life. He served 20 years as part of a plea deal to the 1986 rape and attempted murder in Duval County before being designated a “sexually violent predator” and spending 15 more years in custody.

But earlier this year, the court granted his release after two doctors found he’d changed and no longer posed a risk of reoffending.

Hundreds of pages of court transcripts from a 2009 trial about whether Whitehead should be designated a sexually violent predator paint a picture of Whitehead’s 1986 crime, prison experience and even his childhood. Whitehead testified he was sexually abused as a child by two people.

The court records also reveal Whitehead testified that he had fantasies about rape and murder from a young age and that he had an issue with drinking.

Counselor Lori Osachy said alcohol can disinhibit those with pre-existing issues.

I want to be very clear that most people who have been sexually abused do not go on to abuse,” Osachy said.

In 1986, Whitehead pleaded guilty to kidnapping and raping a stranger at knifepoint and then stabbing her multiple times.

In 2009, a psychiatrist testified it was his opinion that Whitehead “is one of the most dangerous and violent individuals I’ve ever evaluated.”

The psychiatrist also said Whitehead had been kicked out of sex offender treatment in prison multiple times including for propositioning the therapist.

“If they are not receptive to treatment, usually treatment can work, but if they are not receptive to it, they’re unwilling participants, it, of course, points to a more likely for them to commit again,” Osachy said.

Whitehead testified he’d changed in 2009, but a jury declared him a sexually violent predator and he was committed to a civil facility for custody and treatment. But despite years of therapy and the opinions of doctors that he no longer posed a risk, Whitehead is now once again accused of armed rape, kidnapping and attempted murder.

Now, Whitehead is in jail in Orange County awaiting trial.

About the Author:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter