Bridges sex assault case: Police confirm 2nd complaint against same suspect

Another lawsuit filed

Bridges in Rockledge. Photo by Wayne T. Price, Florida Today
Bridges in Rockledge. Photo by Wayne T. Price, Florida Today (Florida Today)

ROCKLEDGE, Fla. – Rockledge police confirmed Tuesday they are investigating a second criminal complaint against Willie Shorter, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

Shorter, 58, of Rockledge, was previously charged with lewd and lascivious battery on a disabled adult in the pregnancy of Dawn Blanchard, now 43, a woman with developmental disabilities he helped care for at the Rockledge group home where he worked as a caregiver.

Blanchard's attorney, Kevin C. Smith of the West Palm Beach law firm Lytal, Reiter, Smith Ivey and Fronrath, said the new complainant — a 37-year-old woman with developmental disabilities living in the same group home — told police Shorter had sexually assaulted her.

She said the incident happened "within the last couple of years," Smith said.

Tuesday morning, Smith filed a lawsuit on behalf of the woman and her mother against Shorter and Bridges, the Rockledge-based nonprofit that runs the group home where Shorter worked.

It is the second suit Smith has filed on behalf of families in the case. The Blanchard family of Sebastian filed a lawsuit through Smith on Thursday. Both seek at least $15,000 in damages.

The woman's family alerted police after learning of the other allegations against Shorter through media coverage, Smith said. Police interviewed her "within the last two weeks," he said.

As of Tuesday, court and jail records showed Shorter has not been charged with any additional crime.

Court records show Shorter has not yet retained an attorney. A woman who answered the door at Shorter's listed address last week declined to talk to a reporter.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.