FREEHOLD, NJ — A former Monmouth County probation officer has admitted he intimidated and sexually assaulted a woman he supervised while she was on probation, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

Henry C. Cirignano, 48, of Wall pleaded guilty on February 24 to three counts of second-degree sexual assault by coercion and one count of second-degree official misconduct before Ocean County Presiding Criminal Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels in Toms River.

An 18-year veteran in the Vicinage of Monmouth, Cirignano was arrested in February 2019 and charged with the sexual assault of a 23-year-old woman while she was on probation. An investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office revealed that between August 2016 through January 2019, Cirignano engaged in sexual activity with the woman while she was under his supervision.

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Further investigation led to the filing of additional charges, including official misconduct, after it was determined that he misused his official position to conceal his illicit activities over that same period of time. Evidence gathered in the investigation revealed Cirignano had threatened to create false probation violations resulting in incarceration unless the victim provided sexual favors to him.

Cirignano’s sexual assaults upon the victim were frequent and repetitive, according to the prosecutor’s office. He also repeatedly lied to the Monmouth Drug Court judge presiding over his victim’s case, providing false excuses for the victim’s failure to appear in court, its statement continued. 

Under the plea agreement, the state has agreed to recommend a sentence of eight years in state prison with an 81-month period of parole ineligibility, subject to the provisions of the "No Early Release Act" (NERA), which requires him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole.

The plea will also subject Cirignano to parole supervision for life and require him to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. In pleading guilty to official misconduct, Cirignano faces a mandatory sentence of at least five years but no more than 10 years in a state prison without parole, a lifetime ban on public employment in New Jersey and forfeiture of his benefits. Sentencing is currently scheduled for April 17 in Superior Court in Ocean County.

“These were heinous acts perpetrated by Mr. Cirignano. The defendant used his position of authority to intimidate his victim into providing sexual favors, believing he was entitled to dangle a jail cell over her head to get what he wanted,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said.

Cirignano has remained held in the Ocean County Correctional Institution since his arrest on February 4, 2019. The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Thomas Fichter and Kristen Anastos. Cirignano is represented by Mitchell Ansell of Ocean Township.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office has instituted a Corruption Tip Line, designed to solicit the public’s assistance in identifying and targeting corruption, fraud and misconduct occurring in local governmental agencies. Citizens may report concerns by calling 855-7-UNJUST (855-786-5878); or emailing and writing “Corruption/Misconduct Tip” in the subject line.

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