Accused Panera Bread groper ordered to wear tracking device

By J.J. Kindred

A Greenback man charged with groping a 16-year-old girl at Panera Bread in Alcoa and other related incidents was ordered Monday to wear a tracking device.

Bruce William Ruck, 59, Franklin Estates, was arrested by Alcoa officers last month on charges of sexual battery and indecent exposure stemming from a Nov. 29 incident and a similar incident Feb. 6 involving a woman and her three children.

Ruck remains free on $2,250 bond. According to Blount County Assistant District Attorney Clinton Frazier, who is representing the state in the case, county probation is reported to be distributing tracking devices starting Jan. 15. Through an agreement with Ruck’s attorney, Billy Gribble, and General Sessions Court Judge William Brewer, Ruck will wear the device.

During the first preliminary hearing earlier this month, Brewer expressed concern about the safety of the public because of Ruck’s alleged actions. The restrictions include Ruck only being able to travel to and from work, court, his attorney’s office and the pre-trial release office.

On Monday, Brewer modified Ruck’s bond conditions, allowing him to go to doctor’s appointments, renew his driver’s license at the DMV, and attend church.

He will have to go to the county probation office and inform them of his appointments and whereabouts at all times. He is not allowed in any public places at any time under the conditions.

Another preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 10.

In the Nov. 29 incident, the 16-year-old victim told police Ruck sat down at her table at Panera, located on Louisville Road in Alcoa, and asked her several inappropriate questions. He then reportedly placed his hand on her leg and moved his hand toward her groin.

According to a police report, on Feb. 6 a woman and her children were eating when a man fitting Ruck’s description sat down at a table across from them and exposed himself.

The woman gathered her children and left, but not before taking a photo of the man. Police had the photo published in The Daily Times and other area media, which led to Ruck’s arrest.