TRENTON – A state correction officer from Burlington County was indicted on charges that he impersonated a law enforcement officer to sexually assault four women, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced today.
Juan R. Stevens, 50, of Burlington Township, a suspended senior correction officer, was charged yesterday in a 25-count state grand jury indictment with one count of pattern of official misconduct (2nd degree) and four counts each of official misconduct (2nd degree), sexual assault (2nd degree), criminal restraint (2nd degree), criminal coercion (2nd degree), theft by extortion (2nd degree), and impersonating a law enforcement officer (4th degree). The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice, conducted with assistance from the Department of Corrections, the Mansfield Police Department, and the Westampton Police Department.
Between May 2011 and July 2012, Stevens allegedly sexually assaulted four women at hotels or motels in Burlington County. Three of the women admitted they were engaged in prostitution, but they allegedly were coerced into having sex with Stevens free of charge or, in one instance, at a discount. In each case, Stevens allegedly identified himself as a law enforcement officer and displayed what appeared to be a law enforcement badge so that the victim feared she would be arrested.
After Stevens was arrested in March by the State Police in connection with the alleged assaults on the three prostitutes, a DNA match resulted in him being charged with another sexual assault reported in May 2011 that fit the same pattern and involved a victim living at a motel in Mansfield. It marked the first time the state filed charges as a result of a DNA hit against a suspect whose DNA was taken under a new state law, signed by Gov. Christie in 2011, requiring DNA samples of all persons arrested for violent crimes.
“It is abhorrent that a state correction officer would corruptly use his badge to sexually assault women in the manner alleged in this indictment,” said Hoffman. “His alleged conduct is a complete betrayal of the trust placed in him as a public servant.”
“We allege that Stevens engaged in a pattern of predatory conduct in which he used his state-issued badge to pose as a police officer and coerce women into having sex with him,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Stevens rightfully faces a range of serious charges, including counts of official misconduct and sexual assault that carry lengthy periods of parole ineligibility.”
Hoffman and Honig urged any other potential victims to contact the Division of Criminal Justice confidentially at its toll-free tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ.
Deputy Attorneys General Victor R. Salgado and Valerie R. Butler presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Detectives Erick Goncalves and Anthony Carugno investigated the case for the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Unit. Detective Daniel Ehnstrom of the Mansfield Police Department investigated the sexual assault in Mansfield with the State Police. The investigation was conducted with assistance from the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division and the Westampton Police Department.
After his initial arrest by the State Police on March 21, Stevens was suspended without pay from his job at the New Jersey Department of Corrections’ Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton.
It is alleged that Stevens, who used the name “Rick” or “Rich,” telephoned women who advertised their services online as adult escorts and arranged for sexual encounters. Stevens initially was charged in connection with an alleged incident on Feb. 24, 2012, at a hotel in Westampton. Stevens allegedly met the victim at the hotel, as arranged by phone, and agreed to pay $125 for 30 minutes of sex. Instead, however, he allegedly flashed a police-style badge, identified himself as a law enforcement officer, and led her to believe he was conducting a prostitution sting. He allegedly uttered the command “stand down” into a cell phone, which appeared to have a walkie-talkie feature. He then allegedly began to fondle the woman, who believed she was about to be arrested, telling her they could work it out. Stevens allegedly had sexual intercourse with the woman and left without paying her. That incident was reported to the Westampton Police Department.
Further investigation identified two additional prostitutes who allegedly were similarly coerced into either performing oral sex on Stevens or having sexual intercourse with him under threat of arrest at motels in Burlington County. It is alleged that in January 2012, Stevens telephoned an “adult escort” and requested that she meet him at a motel in Maple Shade where he would pay for sex. Upon entering the motel room, Stevens allegedly produced a badge and identified himself as a police officer. He allegedly demanded to see the woman’s identification, which he examined. He allegedly requested oral sex from the woman, who complied because she allegedly feared arrest and knew that Stevens knew her home address from her identification. He allegedly directed her to meet him two more times in February and March of 2012, when he allegedly again coerced her into performing oral sex on him free of charge. Stevens allegedly wore handcuffs on the back of his pants on all three of those occasions.
In July 2012, Stevens allegedly telephoned a woman who advertised her services as an adult escort and agreed to meet her at a motel in Maple Shade. Stevens allegedly agreed to pay $160 for sexual intercourse, but in the motel room, he claimed to be a police officer and demanded a discounted price. The woman allegedly had sex with him, fearing arrest, and he allegedly paid her $100.
The DNA match resulted in Stevens being re-arrested on April 25 on charges that he sexually assaulted the fourth woman at a motel in Mansfield on May 23, 2011. It is alleged that Stevens approached the victim outside the motel, where she was living. He was wearing a blue uniform and stated that he was a police officer who was sent to talk to her about prostitution and drug activity at the motel. He allegedly asked if he could enter her room. When he did, he allegedly displayed a police-type badge and ordered her to take her clothes off. The woman allegedly feared Stevens, so she engaged in oral sex and sexual intercourse without a condom. Stevens allegedly threw $15 at her and left the motel. The woman called the Mansfield Police Department to report that she had been raped and was taken to the hospital, where DNA evidence was taken, which matched the sample taken from Stevens after his arrest in March.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The official misconduct and theft by extortion charges carry a mandatory five-year term of parole ineligibility, and the sexual assault charges carry a period of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the prison term imposed. Fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation, and Stevens is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment was handed up late yesterday afternoon to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Burlington County.
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