Instagram page: Ocean City Beach Patrol preyed on teen girls year after year
An Instagram page filled with stories of sexual harassment and hazing by members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol, mostly against girl lifeguards as young as 16, is under investigation by the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office.
The page called ocbp_predators appeared on Thursday with over 100 anonymous stories about older guards, many described as men in their 30s and 40s, taking advantage of 16- and 17-year-old female lifeguards.
"OCMP has more pedophiles in power than not. These men prey on young, impressionable girls on the beach patrol and beach patrons alike," the first post on the account says. "Many underage girls have been harassed by their direct supervisor and have reported this and no action has been taken to stop this."
The creator of the account is not identified but the profile includes a link to RAINN, the national sexual assault hotline.
Some of the stories talk about the guards also being teachers in the Ocean City school system. There are frequent mentions of drugs and alcohol, teen guards being sexualized and the teens waking up not aware of what happened the night before.
Several accounts talked about how the older lifeguards would regularly cite New Jersey's laws on the age of consent, which is 16 — although the law still bars adults in positions of authority or supervision to have sexual contact with anyone under 18.
Some posts purportedly were written by former male lifeguards who corroborated some of the stories and said their complaints to higher-ups were dismissed.
According to one post, the 9th Avenue beach is "glamorized" as where the "best" guards work and party.
"As a teenager you just want to considered cool and one of the best. So when you get invited you think you made it," one story says. "Now that I'm older I realized two things. Those guys are anything but the best and they only wanted younger guard there to either prey on them or make younger girls feel comfortable."
Ocean City spokesman Doug Bergen told New Jersey 101.5 on Friday that the city was aware of the page on the first day it was posted and the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office has begun to investigate the allegations that have been posted there.
"Mayor Jay Gillian has directed Fire Chief Jim Smith to build on existing policies and do whatever it takes to ensure employees feel safe coming forward," Bergen said.
Gillian said that Ocean City has strict sexual harassment policies and procedures in place and acts immediately on every reported complaint.
"I want to continue to make sure all our city team members work in a safe environment," Gillian said.
Investigators ask anyone with information or who has been a victim to contact the Prosecutor’s Office at 609-465-1135, report it anonymously through the Cape May County Sheriff’s Tip Line at cmcsheriff.net (click on "anonymous tip"), or call Cape May County Crime Stoppers at 609-889-3597.