SOMERSET, N.J. (AP) — The police chief in a New Jersey community repeatedly raped one of his employees and committed other sexual abuse against her over a period of years, according to a lawsuit filed by the woman.
The borough council in Manville, at the edge of the New York City suburbs, voted Thursday to put Police Chief Thomas J. Herbst on paid temporary leave, NJ Advance Media reported.
Herbst has been police chief since October 2020 and has been with the department since 1991. The employee started working with the police department in 2000, and Herbst became her supervisor in 2005, according to the lawsuit filed Feb. 15.
The employee said in her lawsuit that Herbst masturbated in front of her in 2008, that he continued to do so and that he eventually raped her in a room in the department despite her saying “no” and “stop.” Herbst raped her multiple times in the department and later at her home and other locations, she said.
Herbst did not respond to requests for comment from NJ Advance Media.
The employee is on paid administrative leave, a decision made with input from her and her attorney.
“The trauma she suffered for more than a decade was unspeakable,” said Nicholas Milewski, attorney for the employee.
The Associated Press does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they choose to come forward publicly.
The employee said she was afraid of being fired or that Herbst would claim that the sexual relations were consensual, NJ Advance Media reported. Herbst would tell her she was “disobeying an order” if she did not comply with his demands, the employee said in her lawsuit.
In her lawsuit, the employee accused another officer of pointing a shotgun at her this month inside the department. That episode prompted her to sue, she said in her lawsuit.
The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed to the news outlet that they were investigating.