Suspended NJ police chief arrested, charged with sexual assault

A suspended New Jersey police chief who is accused of sexually assaulting several women has been arrested.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s office announced the arrest of Thomas Herbst, 55, on Wednesday afternoon.

Herbst has been on administrative leave from the Manville Police Department since a lawsuit was brought against him last February. He is accused of sexual assault, groping and exposing himself and using his rank to coerce staff members into sex acts at work and in victims’ homes.

According to the investigation, the chief regularly groped, exposed himself to, sexually harassed, and sexually assaulted an employee of the police department who reported directly to him between 2008 and 2021. Authorities say the attacks often happened while he and the victim were on duty, and many of the alleged attacks took place at police headquarters.

Herbst, who worked for the department since 1991, is facing two counts of sexual assault, two counts of official misconduct, one count of a pattern of official misconduct, and one count of criminal sexual contact.

One accuser claims she was sexually assaulted by Herbst 10 times. She told investigators she didn’t report the incidents over fears of losing her job.

According to the investigation, Herbst also solicited sexual favors from the wife of one of his subordinate officers in order for that officer to receive favorable employment decisions and opportunities.

“The defendant in this case is accused of using his position of power, authority, and leadership, to force subordinates to engage in sexual acts against their will – I can think of no greater betrayal to the badge than to use one’s power to harm those you are supposed to protect,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “Police officers swear an oath to protect the public, but their Chiefs are expected to protect all those in their charge – to keep safe not only the public but also to ensure the safety of the members of their own department. The alleged conduct of this defendant hurt his victims in unimaginable ways. We intend to hold the defendant accountable for the harm he did to the victims in this case. Letting such conduct go unchecked would be a miscarriage of justice for these women, but also for every female officer and public employee who feels unsafe in an environment where predatory sexual misconduct is normalized or condoned.”

In an unrelated case, officials also announced charges against retired Howell Township Police Chief Andrew Kudrick.

The 49-year-old is accused of lying in the investigation and threatening a high-ranking police department member in an effort to conceal an affair with a subordinate.

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