Courthouse Guard Charged with Sexual Assault

February 13, 2013 at 5:55 PM


PATERSON, NJ – A 53-year-old Wayne man who worked as a temporary security guard at the Passaic County Courthouse has been arrested on sexual assault charges stemming from alleged incidents with a 13-year-old in 2000.

Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Sheriff Richard Berdnik on Wednesday announced the early morning arrest of James Perna, a Passaic County Volunteer Special Deputy Sheriff.

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Authorities said that on Tuesday the alleged victim reported incidents of sexual abuse to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office. The victim, now 26 years old, told detectives that Perna committed sexual acts upon him when he was 13 and employed as summer help in Perna’s “Totowa Health Food Store”.

The victim said the sexual abuse happened on numerous occasions over a period of eight weeks, from June 2000 to August 2000, according to a press release issued by the sheriff and prosecutor. The sex acts sometimes occurred in the Union Avenue health food store, according to authorities.

The press release said that Perna’s arrest was based upon the complaint of the one alleged victim, but that “the evidence suggests that there may be additional victims who are reluctant to come forward.”

Perna has been charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit conducted the investigation, with assistance from the Passaic County Sheriff.

Perna’s bail has been set at $300,000.00.

Authorities are asking that anyone with information about this investigation contact Det. Lt. Steve Batte at 862-236-0436.

Editor's Note: This article relies on information provided by law enforcement officials and the subjects are presumed innocent. If notified of changes to the charges or their outcome, will update this report.

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