A Vernon Township police officer has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman who had called police to report domestic violence against her, according to Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch.
On May 27, Emanuel Rivera, 36, of Vernon Township was charged with one count of second-degree Official Misconduct and one count of fourth-degree Criminal Sexual Contact, according to the prosecutor’s office. Rivera has been suspended from the police force.
In late February 2020, the Vernon Township Police Department received information that Rivera engaged in criminal activity while on duty. Vernon Police Chief Daniel Young immediately referred the matter to the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, conducted a three-month investigation before filing charges.
The prosecutor’s office alleges that during the early morning hours of May 11, 2019, Rivera responded to a domestic incident at a residence in Vernon Township. The female subject of the call was asked to leave the residence. It is alleged that shortly thereafter, Rivera located the victim and engaged in illegal sexual contact through coercive means.
Rivera joined the Vernon Township Police Department in August 2013. He had previously served for six years as a member of the Paterson Police Department.
The investigation into the alleged conduct of Officer Rivera is ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Lt. Nicholas Elmo with the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office at 973-383-1570 ext. 4553.
Rivera was involved in a controversy last year over the fatal shooting of a dog on Tall Oaks Drive. On July 31, 2019, Rivera responded to a complaint of an aggressive dog running loose in the area. Rivera said the dog charged him. The Animal Protection League of New Jersey protested the way the incident was handled. The township police cleared Rivera of wrongdoing after conducting an internal investigation. Police Capt. Keith Kimkowski said his department is generally the first to respond when a nuisance animal call comes in after hours and that Animal Control would not come out unless the police department had the dog contained.
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