Police & Fire

Corrections Officers at Women's Prison Indicted on 26 Counts

At the press conference are (from left) Hunterdon Chief of Detectives John Kuczynski, Hunterdon Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III and Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Detective William Svard. Credits: Curtis Leeds
The announcment drew press from across the state and from New York. Credits: Curtis Leeds

FLEMINGTON, NJ – Four senior corrections officers have been indicted on charges of sexual assault and official misconduct at their jobs at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton.

The charges were announced Monday morning at a press conference called by Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III. Mahan is the state’s only women’s prison.

The Jan. 19 indictments follow a joint investigation by Kearns’ Special Victim’s Unit and the state Department of Corrections, Special investigations Division. There were a total of 26 counts related to the sexual abuse of eight female inmates, Kearns said.

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The investigation is still underway, Kearns said, so more charges could follow.

“We have in our society a system of punishing individuals who violate our laws,” Kearns said, reading from a press release. “And when imprisonment is the punishment, it is our corrections officers that must carry out the duty of ensuing the welfare, safety and security of the inmates” they supervise.

Kearns said the sexual abuse “compromises the safety and security of prisons in general because it leads to a weakening of authority ... which gives way to other dangers.”

Kearns said those charged “had compete power over every aspect” of the victims’ lives behind bars.

The four officers charged are:

  • Jason Mays, 43, of Hillside. He was indicted on five counts of official misconduct, one count of pattern of official misconduct, and three counts of sexual assault, all second-degree crimes; two third-degree counts of criminal coercion; and four fourth-degree counts of criminal sexual contact.
  • Anwar Dixon, 38, of East Orange. He was indicted on two counts of official misconduct, one count of pattern of official misconduct and one count of sexual assault, all second-degree crimes; and three counts of criminal sexual contact, which are fourth-degree crimes.
  • Brian Y. Ambroise, 33, of Union. He was indicted on one count of official misconduct and sexual assault, both second-degree offences.
  • Thomas Seguine, 34, of Phillipsburg. He was indicted on one count of official misconduct and sexual assault, both second-degree crimes.

All four men have been released on bail, with conditions that they have no contact with the alleged victims or the prison itself, Kearns said. A date for their arraignment has not yet been set.

A fifth employee, Joel Herscap, 55, of Alpha, worked as an institutional trade instructor at the prison from September 2013 until his arrest in May of last year. He previously pleaded guilty to one count of official misconduct and was sentenced to three years in state prison. He is currently being held at Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton, according to the state Department of Corrections website.

Most of the incidents happened in 2015 and 2016, Kearns said, but one case dates back to 2010.

If convicted, those charged could face five- to 10-year prison sentences on the official misconduct charges and three- to five-year sentences on the sex charges.

A stone-faced Kearns said that the investigation was “ a difficult process. We put all of our resources into it.” But he praised the state’s Department of Corrections Special Investigation Division, and said the collaboration between it and his office “was vital to the success of the investigation.” He said DOC showed a “steadfast dedication to the pursuit of justice. We will continue to work together to prosecute those who violate the public trust.”

In a press release, state DOC Commissioner Gary M. Logan said that the “overwhelming majority” of corrections officers is “hard-working, fair-minded and law-abiding.” But violators “will not be taken lightly” and will face “legal ramifications.”

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