Two New Jersey police chiefs charged with criminal sexual misconduct

Two police chiefs charged with sexual assault

Two police chiefs—Andrew Kudrick, 49, of Farmingdale, and Thomas Herbst, 55, of Bridgewater—are charged with sexual assault, according to Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin.

Platkin announced the filing of criminal charges against Herbst, Manville’s suspended police chief, who allegedly engaged in a years-long pattern of sexually predatory behavior targeting multiple women.

Kudrick, the former Howell Township police chief is facing criminal charges after he allegedly lied in a township investigation and threatened a high-ranking member of the police department in order to cover up a sexual affair with a subordinate.

Kudrick, 49, of Farmingdale, who retired from his position as the Howell Township Chief after the conduct alleged in the complaint, has been charged with official misconduct, false swearing, tampering with public records, tampering with and retaliating against witnesses and obstructing the administration of law.

Those charges arise from an investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability’s (OPIA) Corruption Bureau regarding an alleged extramarital affair the chief had with an employee of the Howell Township Police Department and his efforts to conceal it from the township during a sexual harassment investigation.

Herbst, who worked for the Manville Police Department since 1991 and was on paid administrative leave as of his arrest this morning, April 12, 2023, is facing two counts of sexual assault, two counts of official misconduct, one count of a pattern of official misconduct, and one count of criminal sexual contact.

“The defendant in this case is accused of using his position of power, authority, and leadership, to force subordinates to engage in sexual acts against their will – I can think of no greater betrayal to the badge than to use one’s power to harm those you are supposed to protect,” said Platkin.

“Police officers swear an oath to protect the public, but their Chiefs are expected to protect all those in their charge – to keep safe not only the public but also to ensure the safety of the members of their own department,” said Platkin. “The alleged conduct of this defendant hurt his victims in unimaginable ways. We intend to hold the defendant accountable for the harm he did to the victims in this case.”

A confrontation between Kudrick’s wife and his suspected mistress during a 2021 retirement party raised suspicions about the possible existence of the improper relationship.

Following that incident, the township hired a special labor counsel to conduct an internal investigation, spurred by concerns that the municipal government could be at risk for liability due to the potential existence of a hostile work environment and sexual harassment within the police department.

The day before a captain with the Howell Township PD, who had knowledge and evidence of the affair, was slated to be interviewed a second time by the special counsel in late March 2022, it is alleged that Kudrick threatened the witness in an effort to intimidate him against being truthful.

Specifically, Kudrick threatened to initiate an illegitimate internal affairs investigation of the captain, accusing him of speaking to the township manager directly without the chief’s approval, in order to intimidate the captain from truthfully cooperating in the special labor investigator’s probe.

Other charges stem from an official interview Kudrick gave to the special labor counsel, in which he falsely denied making sexual comments to or having an intimate relationship with, the subordinate and denied he received explicit photos of her.

But the evidence showed an affair did take place, in violation of the Township’s Policy Against Fraternization prohibiting romantic relationships with subordinates.

“Herbst is charged with abusing his rank and authority to coerce staff members into sex acts in the workplace and in the victims’ homes, and to obtain lewd photos and sex acts from the wives and girlfriends of subordinates in return for promotions and assignments,” said Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. “This conduct, as alleged, is a disgrace. We will not tolerate criminal behavior by someone who swore an oath to protect and serve the people.”

Herbst is accused of sexually inappropriate behavior toward at least three women. According to the investigation, the chief regularly groped, exposed himself to, sexually harassed, and sexually assaulted an employee of the police department who reported directly to him, using coercion and doing so without the victim’s permission, between 2008 and 2021. The attacks often happened while he and the victim were on duty, and many of the alleged attacks took place in various locations at police headquarters.

In one of the earlier attacks, the defendant called the victim into his office and told her he would allow her to leave work early. He then stood next to the chair in which she was sitting in a way that prevented her from getting out. He then removed his penis from his pants, masturbated, and ejaculated into her hair and onto her clothing. He told her he was sorry and directed her to go home.

According to the charging document unsealed today, acts like the initial attack occurred repeatedly, but eventually escalated to acts of assault by penetration.

Investigators say the defendant at one point ordered the one victim to begin wearing skirts to work to facilitate and escalate the assaults. On occasion, he would arrange to meet her at a motel to assault her, and at one point when she resisted, he accused her of disobeying orders.

The chief also allegedly attacked the victim in her own home, entering through the backdoor of her home uninvited and sexually assaulting the victim. Investigators say that, in an attempt to avoid those encounters, the victim began closing her blinds, locking her doors, and parking in her garage so that when the defendant drove by, he would not know she was home.

According to the investigation, Herbst also solicited sexual favors from the wife of one of his subordinate officers in order for that officer to receive favorable employment decisions and opportunities. In one instance, the defendant texted his subordinate demanding oral sex from the employee’s wife in exchange for a promotion. That conduct violated Borough of Manville sexual harassment policies prohibiting a borough employee from requesting sexual favors when submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for an employment decision affecting a municipal employee.

Evidence additionally revealed the defendant went to the newly purchased home of another victim, who had previously been his subordinate, and while touring the house, sexually assaulted her.

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