|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a DNA match has led to a new sexual assault charge against a state correction officer from Burlington County, Juan R. Stevens, who previously was arrested by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice on charges he identified himself as a police officer to coerce prostitutes into having sex with him free of charge.
Stevens, 50, of Burlington City, was arrested again today, marking the first time the state has filed charges as a result of a DNA hit against a suspect who was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) under New Jersey’s new law requiring DNA sampling of all persons arrested for violent crimes, including sexual assault. Governor Christie signed the law in 2011, and it became effective on Feb. 1, 2013. Stevens’ DNA was analyzed by the State Police Office of Forensic Sciences DNA Laboratory and entered into CODIS after his initial arrest in March.
Stevens, who is suspended without pay from his job as a senior correction officer at the Department of Correction’s Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton, was arrested on March 21 on charges of second-degree sexual assault and third-degree criminal restraint, based on allegations that between September 2011 and July 2012, he identified himself as a police officer to coerce at least four prostitutes into engaging in sexual acts with him for free or, in one instance, at a discount.
Stevens was arrested today on charges that he sexually assaulted another woman on May 23, 2011 at a motel in Mansfield, Burlington County. Stevens allegedly wore a uniform and displayed a badge to the victim. He also allegedly used physical force and threatening behavior to make the woman perform oral sex and have sexual intercourse with him, without a condom. The woman called the Mansfield Police Department to report that she had been raped and was taken to the hospital, where DNA evidence was taken. The evidence allegedly matched the DNA sample taken from Stevens following his arrest in March.
“This DNA hit, which enabled us to solve an open case, highlights the importance of our new law mandating testing of those arrested for violent crimes,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “Experience teaches us that violent criminals, including sex offenders, often commit multiple crimes, as this defendant allegedly did. The new law will help us lock up repeat offenders and protect the public.”
“This DNA match brings new evidence that the defendant was a serial sex offender, who allegedly preyed on women by identifying himself as a police officer and coercing them into sexual acts,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge any victims to contact us.”
“Threats of arrest for personal gain – whether by an impostor, or an actual police officer – undermine the work of all law enforcement. We will always meet such crimes with all available resources, which this time included a rock-solid DNA match by the State Police Forensic lab and a great investigation by our Official Corruption Unit,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
“This is the first time that the newly obtained offender samples in the New Jersey CODIS database have solved a crime and enabled an arrest,” said Dr. Howard Baum, Director of the State Police Office of Forensic Sciences. “With ever-increasing workloads, our lab personnel continue to do cutting edge work with unparalleled professionalism.”
CODIS has been a highly successful crime-fighting tool. To date, the NJ CODIS database contains DNA profiles from more than 250,000 convicted offenders and over 16,500 DNA profiles from crime scene evidence. The New Jersey CODIS program has generated more than 7,200 hits solving crimes that would not have been possible without DNA technology. The recent offender law will enhance the power of CODIS by solving additional crimes following arrests instead of after convictions.
Stevens was charged today by complaint with new counts of second-degree sexual assault and third-degree criminal restraint. Those charges and the prior charges against him stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, conducted with assistance from the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division, the Westampton Police Department, and the Mansfield Police Department.
Detective Erick Goncalves and Detective Anthony Carugno are conducting the investigation for the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Unit. Deputy Attorney General Victor R. Salgado and Deputy Attorney General Valerie R. Butler are handling the investigation and prosecuting the charges for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Detective Daniel Ehnstrom of the Mansfield Police Department investigated the sexual assault in Mansfield with the State Police.
When Stevens was arrested in March, bail was set at $200,000, which he posted. Stevens surrendered to detectives today at the State Police Bordentown Station to be processed on the new charges. He remains free on bail.
In connection with the new charges, it is alleged that Stevens approached the victim outside the motel where she was living in Mansfield. He was wearing a blue uniform, which appeared to have handcuffs hanging from the back of the pants, and stated that he was a police officer who was sent to talk to her about prostitution and drug activity at the motel. He allegedly asked if he could enter her room. When he did, he allegedly displayed a police-type badge and ordered her to take her clothes off. The victim allegedly told him she would rather be arrested than have sex with him. However, Stevens allegedly took his own clothes off, lay on the bed, and again demanded that she undress. He allegedly pulled her onto the bed. The woman allegedly feared Stevens would harm her, so she engaged in oral sex and sexual intercourse. Stevens allegedly threw $15 at her and left the motel.
At least four other women have alleged that Stevens coerced them into having sex by, among other things, identifying himself as a police officer. Stevens, who used the name “Rick” or “Rich,” allegedly telephoned women who advertised their services online as adult escorts. He allegedly arranged for sexual encounters at hotels in Burlington County, N.J., or Philadelphia. However, rather than paying the agreed price, he claimed to be a police officer, producing a law enforcement-type badge in most cases, so the women feared they would be arrested. He sometimes wore handcuffs on the back of his pants.
Additional details of the other four alleged incidents are included in the March 21 press release about his arrest at www.njpublicsafety.com.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of $15,000. The charges against Stevens are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because they are indictable offenses, the charges will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.
The Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report crimes confidentially. The public can also log on to the Division’s website at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.