Ex-probation officer admits forcing woman into sex with threats of jail
A former Monmouth County probation officer has admitting to repeatedly intimidating and sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman he was supervising on probation, over a two-and-a-half-year span.
Henry C. Cirignano, 48, of Wall, pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of second-degree sexual assault by coercion and one count of second-degree official misconduct.
According to Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni, between August 2016 and January 2019, Cirignano’s sexual assaults upon the victim were "frequent and repetitive."
Cirignano threatened to create false probation violations resulting in prison, unless the woman provided sexual favors to him, according to prosecutors.
He also repeatedly lied to the drug court judge presiding over the woman's case, providing false excuses for her failure to appear in court, Gramiccioni said.
“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,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said, calling Cirignano's behavior "heinous."
Under the plea agreement, the prosecutor's office has agreed to recommend a sentence of eight years in state prison. Under the "No Early Release Act," Cirignano would be eligible for parole after six years and 9 months.
Cirignano has remained in Ocean County Jail since his arrest on Feb. 4, 2019.
The plea deal also means Cirignano faces parole supervision for life and must register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law.
In pleading guilty to official misconduct, Cirignano faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years, but no more than 10 years in state prison without parole.
He also will be banned from further public employment in New Jersey, and forfeiture of his benefits.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 17 in Ocean County Superior Court.
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