FREEHOLD – A former Monmouth County probation officer pleaded guilty this afternoon admitting he intimidated and sexually assaulted a woman he supervised on probation, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Officials say, Henry C. Cirignano, 48, of Wall Township, an 18-year veteran of the New Jersey State Probation in the Vicinage of Monmouth, entered a plea of guilty to three counts of second degree Sexual Assault by Coercion and one count of second-degree Official Misconduct before Ocean County Presiding Criminal Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels in Toms River this afternoon.
Cirignano was arrested in February 2019 and charged with the sexual assault of a 23-year-old woman he supervised on probation. An investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office revealed that between August 2016 through January 2019, Cirignano engaged in sexual activity with the female probationer while she was under his supervision.
Further investigation led to the filing of additional charges, including charges of Official Misconduct, after it was determined that he misused his official position to conceal his illicit activities over that same period of time.
Evidence gathered in the investigation revealed Cirignano had threatened to create false probation violations resulting in incarceration unless the victim provided sexual favors to him. Cirignano’s sexual assaults upon the victim were frequent and repetitive.
Cirignano also repeatedly lied to the Drug Court judge presiding over his victim’s case providing false excuses for the victim’s failure to appear in court.
Under the plea agreement, the State has agreed to recommend a sentence of 8 years New Jersey state prison with a six years and 9-month period of parole ineligibility, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole.
The plea will also subject Cirignano to Parole Supervision for Life and require him to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. In pleading guilty to Official Misconduct, Cirignano faces a mandatory sentence of at least five years but no more than ten years in a New Jersey state prison without parole, a lifetime ban on public employment in the State of New Jersey, and forfeiture of his benefits.
Sentencing is currently scheduled for April 17, 2020, in Ocean County Superior Court.
“These were heinous acts perpetrated by Mr. Cirignano. The defendant used his position of authority to intimidate his victim into providing sexual favors, believing he was entitled to dangle a jail cell over her head to get what he wanted,” Gramiccioni said.
Cirignano has remained held in the Ocean County Correctional Institution since his arrest on February 4, 2019.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Thomas Fichter and Kristen Anastos.
Cirignano is represented by Mitchell Ansell, Esq., of Ocean Township.