NJ prison guard fired after sex misconduct charges at Army beach party
TRENTON — A soldier who was booted from the military after he was accused of sexually harassing a female soldier also has lost his job as a corrections officer in New Jersey.
Donju Frazier was fired after the department learned about the sexual misconduct charges more than a year after they had been filed by the military.
Frazier, who took a deal that allowed him to avoid a court martial by reducing his rank and getting an other than honorable discharge, was never found guilty of any crime. He also denies the charges.
But state corrections officials fired him after finding that he failed to inform superiors of the charges within 48 hours.
Frazier initially won back his job after an administrative law judge concluded that the conduct that resulted in his termination was not criminal. The judge instead imposed a 120-day suspension.
The decision, which also had been upheld by the state Civil Service Commission, was overturned last week by an appellate panel that found that the judge was wrong to conclude that the conduct was not criminal.
Officials say Frazier inappropriately touched and sexually harassed a subordinate while at a beach party with his National Guard platoon in Qatar in 2014. Officials said he got drunk and touched the woman’s stomach, chest and buttocks.
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command investigated and concluded that probable cause existed for charges to be filed. Frazier requested Chapter 10 discharge in lieu of trial by court martial. The charges were dismissed as a result.
The appellate decision said that Frazier had been investigated for possible sexual assault, which, as a civilian, could have resulted in criminal charges of aggravated sexual assault.
The appellate judges said last week that public employees are supposed to be held to a higher standard and “progressive discipline” — such as suspensions — can be bypassed when the conduct is egregious.
“The record indicated that Frazier lacks the ability to adhere to rules and behave professionally and lacks candor and self-control,” the appellate decision says. “Frazier is a poor candidate for incremental discipline and the ALJ abused her discretion in ruling otherwise.”
Frazier’s attorney, Colin Lynch, of the Newark firm Zazzalli Fagella Nowak Kleinbaum & Freidman, said he and his client were disappointed in the decision and are considering their legal options.
“Unfortunately, the Appellate Division declined to accept the conclusion of the administrative law judge who heard the testimony of Mr. Frazier, his accuser and witnesses to the purported assault,” Lynch said in a statement.
“In a well-reasoned decision, she found that the accuser’s allegation and testimony lacked credibility. To this date, Mr. Frazier has never been convicted of any crime in connection with the incident and the only body to take and hear testimony with respect to the allegation of sexual assault rejected it.”
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.