TRENTON – A senior correctional officer at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women was arrested today for allegedly sexually assaulting an inmate last month.

Tyrell Harris-McLaughlin, 28, of Jersey City, was charged with sexual assault and official misconduct, both second-degree charges. Crimes of the second degree are subject to penalties of 5 to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $150,000.

The charges were announced by acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck and Hunterdon County Prosecutor Renée Robeson. The prison is just outside of Clinton in Hunterdon’s Union Township.

“We are committed to holding accountable correctional officers who abuse their power and inflict harm on inmates,” Bruck said.

The Edna Mahan facility has had chronic issues with sexual and physical abuse of inmates, which culminated in a violent forced cell extraction in January in which some inmates were seriously injured. Ten correctional officers have been criminally charged.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced in June that he intends to close Edna Mahan, which is the state’s only women’s correctional facility. The process will take years, and it’s not yet clear where the inmates will be housed in the future.

Prosecutors allege that Harris-McLaughlin sexually assaulted the inmate on Sept. 16. An affidavit of probable cause attached to the complaint says the victim collected the semen from her body and that State Police matched it to a DNA sample from a swab taken of Harris-McLaughlin’s cheek.

“Anyone in custody is entitled to be free from sexual or other assaults,” said Thomas Eicher, executive director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability in the Attorney General’s Office. “When law enforcement officers assault and exploit those subject to their authority, as alleged here, we will ensure that they are fully investigated and prosecuted.”

“When those entrusted to serve the public are alleged to have violated their oath, we will thoroughly and objectively carry out our commitment to seek justice,” Robeson said. “Our office will continue to work with the Attorney General’s Office and other law enforcement partners in our ongoing mission to create a safe environment for everyone in Hunterdon County.”

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Prosecutors said anyone with relevant information about the case or the defendant should contact the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability confidentially at 1-844-OPIA-TIPS.

Harris-McLaughlin’s defense attorney has not yet been determined.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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