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Press Release

New Jersey Correctional Officer Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Sexual Abuse of Detainee

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey announced today that Shawn D. Shaw, 42, of Newark, New Jersey, a former correctional officer with the Essex County, New Jersey, Correctional Facility, was sentenced today to 25 years in prison for sexually assaulting a pretrial detainee and then lying about it to investigators.

Shaw was convicted on Feb. 5, 2016, of both counts of an indictment charging him with depriving an individual of rights under color of law and obstruction of justice following a seven-day trial before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas of the District of New Jersey.  Judge Salas imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

“The defendant abused his position of power to exploit a vulnerable individual whom he was tasked with protecting,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta.  “While no amount of jail time can undo the harm he caused, I am hopeful that this sentence will provide some level of resolution to the victim who had the strength and resolve to report the assault.”

“The defendant’s conduct in this case is especially abhorrent considering his role as a public servant overseeing the safety and well-being of the prisoners in his charge,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman.  “His sentence appropriately reflects the serious nature of his crime and the government’s intolerance of such criminal behavior by those who wear a badge.”

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

Shaw was the only officer on duty in the female unit during a blizzard on Dec. 28, 2010.  During the night, Shaw made sexually explicit comments to the victim.  Although she rejected his advances, records show that in the middle of the night, Shaw opened the victim’s cell door.  The victim testified that Shaw entered her cell, and despite her saying “stop” and “no,” Shaw raped her.  Expert testimony, including DNA analysis, corroborated the victim’s testimony that Shaw was her assailant.

When investigators questioned Shaw about the attack, he lied and intentionally omitted information from his statement in order to obstruct the investigation.  Shaw falsely stated that he did not make sexual comments to the detainee or enter the victim’s cell.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Salas sentenced Shaw to five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $6,000 in restitution.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Newark Division and was prosecuted by Criminal Division Chief Thomas Eicher and Assistant U.S. Attorney Shana Chen of the District of New Jersey and Trial Attorney Shan Patel of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.

Updated June 13, 2016

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 16-679