Manville Police Chief Thomas J. Herbst repeatedly raped a woman at her home and sexually assaulted the department employee at work in a “prolonged pattern and practice of abhorrent sexual harassment” that continued for 13 years, according to a civil lawsuit filed Feb. 15 in Somerset County Superior Court.
Police Chief Thomas J. Herbst was placed on temporary leave after the employee filed the lawsuit containing the shocking allegations of rape.
The employee, who has not been publicly identified, accused Herbst of various sexual abuses, including rape, and claims that he engaged in a “prolonged pattern and practice of abhorrent sexual harassment” since 2008.
The Manville Borough Council convened an emergency meeting and voted unanimously to place Herbst on paid temporary administrative leave, according to Franklin Whittlesey, the borough’s labor attorney.
Lieutenant Craig Jeremiah has been placed in charge of the department while the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office investigates the allegations.
“The Manville mayor and council were both shocked and surprised by the civil action which was recently filed against the police department and the borough. The officers involved in these allegations have been placed on temporary administrative leave with pay,” said Franklin Whittlesey, the borough’s labor counsel.
Herbst is a veteran officer hired by Manville Police Department in 1991 upon his graduation from the Somerset County Police Academy and has since served in every division in the law enforcement agency.
Herbst was promoted to sergeant in September 2000 where he was assigned to the Patrol Division. In October 2005 he was promoted to Lieutenant and was assigned as Administrative Division Commander where he served until October 2019 when he was promoted to Captain and assigned as Patrol Commander.
On October 12, 2020, he was sworn in as the 9th Chief of Police for the Borough of Manville since 1929.
He allegedly raped the woman at least 10 times in the police archive room and regularly took advantage of her at her home and in a hotel parking lot during her lunch hour, the lawsuit says.
The woman was also put on paid administrative leave from the police department in what Whittlesey called, “a decision that was made with input from her and attorneys to give the investigation time to play out.”
Court papers said that the woman said she was a single mother at the time the alleged assaults began and she feared losing her job at the police department if she reported the misconduct.
Herbst did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations.