Following his suspension amid sexual assault allegations, Manville Police Chief Thomas Herbst wrongfully held onto his badge, then displayed it as if was still on active duty to a police officer who’d pulled him over late this past January, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said.
The charge was contained in an eight-count indictment returned by a state grand jury that focused mostly on what the attorney general called “sexually predatory behavior targeting multiple women over many years” by Herbst, 55, of Bridgewater.
Herbst was originally arrested and charged this past April following an investigation by the AG’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA).
A grand jury, after hearing the state’s case, then returned what’s known as a “true bill” on Monday, June 12, charging Herbst with two counts of sexual assault, four counts of official misconduct, one count of a pattern of official misconduct and one count of criminal sexual contact.
Herbst “regularly groped, exposed himself to and sexually assaulted” at least two department employees, Platkin said.
He also ordered one of them at one point to wear skirts to make it easier to sexually assault her and “accused her of disobeying orders” when she resisted his advances, the attorney general said.
Herbst also attacked the victim in her own home after entering through the back door uninvited, the indictment alleges.
The woman was so terrified, it says, that she tried to make it appear that she wasn’t home when she was off duty – locking her doors, drawing her blinds and putting her car in a garage.
Herbst was placed on leave after the female employee filed a lawsuit accusing him of repeatedly sexually assaulting her at headquarters and raping her at her home and in a hotel parking lot during lunch.
It was all part of a “prolonged pattern and practice of abhorrent sexual harassment” from 2008 to 2021, Platkin said.
In one instance, he said, Herbst “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,” the attorney general said. “He told her he was sorry and directed her to go home.”
Herbst – who’d been with the Manville force for 30 years and became chief in October 2020 — also solicited sexual favors from the wife of one of his subordinates, saying it would help the officer’s career.
“In one instance, the defendant texted his subordinate demanding oral sex from the employee’s wife in exchange for a promotion,” Platin said.
“We expect those who swear an oath to uphold and enforce the law to be honorable, committed to the cause of justice, and dedicated to public service, and we require that they follow the law themselves,” the attorney general said on Tuesday.
Herbst, however, “established an unsafe toxic work environment for women where power was abused,” Platkin said.
The attorney general called the alleged conduct “unacceptable and criminal” and said “we expect to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.”
Deputy Attorneys General Samantha Thoma and Andrew Wellbrock are handling the case for the state.
Click here to follow Daily Voice Ocean and receive free news updates.