MAPLEWOOD — An Irivington man has been arrested and charged in connection with the sexual assault of a woman after he followed her home, police said.

Muhammad Sharif, 40, was arrested on Saturday after an investigation by several law enforcement agencies, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II, announced.

The alleged assault happened on Tuesday when the woman said a man followed her home and forced his way into her house, Stephens said at the time. The woman was taken to a local hospital and released, according to the prosecutor. After the incident police encouraged people to stay alert, even in and around their homes.

"Residents should be aware of their surroundings especially if walking alone and not provide personal information to strangers," Chief Jim DeVaul said. "Do not open your door to strangers, talk thru an open window if you have to.

On Sunday Stephens credited the Maplewood Police Department and members of the Special Victims and Major Crimes Unit from his office for their work leading to Sharif's arrest.

"Personnel from both agencies worked tirelessly during this joint investigation and their efforts resulted in the swift arrest of the suspect," he said.

Sharif was charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and burglary. He was being held in the Essex County Correctional Facility. Stephens said the investigation is ongoing and encouraged anyone with information about the case to call the Prosecutor's Tip Line at 1-877-847-7432.


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