A New Jersey corrections officer allegedly coerced prostitutes into having sex with him at several Burlington County spots by identifying himself as a police officer.
Juan R. Stevens, 50, of Burlington City, was arrested Thursday by New Jersey State Police and charged with second-degree sexual assault and third-degree criminal restraint.
Authorities accuse Stevens, a senior officer at the Department of Correction’s Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton, of posing as a police officer during at least four encounters with prostitutes.
Stevens telephoned women who advertised online as escorts and arranged to meet them for sex in Burlington County or Philadelphia, state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. Instead of paying the agreed price, Stevens instead identified himself as a police officer and often flashed a badge, Chiesa alleged. Stevens also reportedly sometimes wore handcuffs hooked on his pants at the meetups.
“We allege that by posing as a police officer and coercing victims into having sex with him, this defendant committed serious crimes and betrayed the public’s trust, as well as the honor of the badge he does carry, that of a state correction officer,” Chiesa said in a statement. “We have zero tolerance for such corrupt conduct.”
Several of the alleged incidents took place in Maple Shade, the attorney general said. Stevens reportedly offered an escort $300 to meet in a Maple Shade motel for sex in January 2012. After allegedly identifying himself as a police officer and examining the woman’s ID, Stevens requested oral sex from the woman, Chiesa charges. She complied, fearing arrest and that Stevens knew her address.
Stevens compelled her to meet him two more times in the ensuing months for more sexual encounters, authorities charge.
A similar situation unfolded with a different woman in Maple Shade in July 2012, according to police, when Stevens reportedly agreed to pay $160 for a sexual encounter. This time, police charge, he demanded a discount and paid $100 after having sex with the woman.
“This correction officer allegedly used the same tactics on multiple occasions to intimidate prostitutes into having sex with him free of charge,” said Elie Honig, director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This is an ongoing investigation, and we urge any other victims to contact us confidentially.”
Stevens also is accused of coercing another woman in February 2012 at a Westampton hotel, where he told the victim he was conducting a prostitution sting and reportedly mimicked telling other police staff to “stand down” before compelling the woman into sex, authorities said. Stevens also coerced a woman in Philadelphia using similar tactics to the other alleged incidents, authorities added.
The second-degree charge against Stevens carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Stevens was held on $200,000 bail in Burlington County Jail after his arrest.
The Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report corruption and other crimes confidentially. The public can also log on to the Division of Criminal Justice webpage at njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.