NJ prosecutor drops charges against off-duty cop for allegedly exposing himself in Applebee's bathroom
The district attorney said the accusations by two boys did not hold up to scrutiny, but a local civil rights activist is planning a protest.
An off-duty South Jersey police officer accused of exposing himself to two boys in an Applebee's bathroom won't face criminal charges.
Salem County Prosecutor John Lenahan said in a statement Monday of Penns Grove police officer, Anthony Minguez, "was exposed for the purpose of urinating, not sexual gratification."
Following a citizen complaint, Minguez was accused of exposing himself to two boys, one 13, the other 9, on March 29 inside an Applebee’s in Pennsville Township, New Jersey.
"Off-Duty Officer Minguez was in a stall in the bathroom urinating when the victims attempted to enter the stall at which time Officer Minguez turned around and the juveniles fled the bathroom," Lenahan's office said in its statement. "The victims allege that Officer Minguez shook his penis and had a creepy look on his face."
However, prosecutors said, after a "thorough investigation" involving interviews with restaurant staff and reviews of video evidence, it was determined criminal charges would not be pursued.
The charges, which were originally filed as a citizen complaint, were not completely dropped. Officials said allegations of lewdness and disorderly conduct would be handled in the local municipal court, as a civil complaint.
The Penns Grove Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The department previously told NJ.com that Minguez would remain on duty while the complaint was investigated by its internal affairs division.
Walter Hudson, chairman of South Jersey civil rights group the National Awareness Alliance, has organized a protest of the decision, to take place April 18, in Penns Grove. He has already called for Minguez to be fired.
“From speaking to the mother, Ms. Justina Davis, I learned of the prosecutor’s decision, not to prosecute Officer Anthony Minguez," Hudson said in a statement. "This decision was made because under the law you had to prove 'gratification.' In the young boys’ testimony, they boy gave statements of the officer was 'laughing' as he groped himself. I find that to be very interesting. If laughing is not gratifying enough, then I don’t know what is."
"It makes me raise the question, that if the boys were the same age, white and part of the Boys Scouts of America, and the officer was black, would the outcome been different?" he said.
Prosecutors did not comment on Hudson's questions about the handling of the case.