Shocking allegations of rape have been leveled against a central New Jersey police chief in a lawsuit filed in Superior Court.

The suit prompted an emergency meeting of the Manville Borough council, where they voted unanimously to place Chief Thomas J. Herbst on leave.

In 32 pages, the civil suit lays out a “prolonged pattern and practice of abhorrent sexual harassment” over 13 years.

The alleged victim is also an employee of the Manville Police department. She is identified in the lawsuit filed Feb. 15. New Jersey 101.5 does not identify alleged victims of sexual violence.

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Among the allegations against Herbst:

  • He regularly masturbated in front of the victim at the police station, and touched her inappropriately
  • He raped the alleged victim 10 times in the police archive room
  • He raped the alleged victim in a hotel parking lot
  • Later, he began raping her at her home

Herbst is a 30 year veteran of the force, and the alleged sexual assaults began when he was a lieutenant and the woman's supervisor.

According to the Manville Police Department website, Herbst was hired in 1991 upon graduating from the Somerset County Police Academy.  After serving in every division of the department, he was sworn in as chief in 2020. was the first to report on the lawsuit.

The Somerset County prosecutor's office is now investigating, but refusing to comment on the contents of the lawsuit.

The alleged victim is also on paid leave from the department while the investigation is being conducted.

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In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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