A retired Ocean City police officer who is in his second season as a superintendent of the city's beach tag operations was arrested Saturday and charged with second-degree sexual contact with a beach tag inspector.
Charles Cusack, 49, was arrested by city police about 4:30 p.m. Saturday while on duty, Capt. Steven Ang said. Cusack was transported to the Ocean City Police Department, his place of employment until his 2011 retirement.
Cusack, who resides in Egg Harbor Township, was charged with second-degree criminal sexual contact with a female under the age of 18 who was under his supervision, Ang said. He was released after he posted $150,000 bond.
Ang said Cusack has been suspended from his city post pending outcome of the investigation.
Ang said the alleged sexual contact occurred over a period of time, but he declined to be more specific.
"It's an embarrassment to the city and to the Ocean City Police Department, but we're more concerned about protecting the victim and the victim's family," Ang said.
A condition of Cusack's release was that he have no contact with anyone in the beach tag program, Ang said.
As part of his duties during 25 years in the OCPD, Cusack worked as a bicycle officer for about a year in the community policing division, which has close interaction with Ocean City High School, Ang said. Cusack also worked at the high school as a school resource officer in the two years before he retired from the police department, said Michael Stanton, Ocean City schools solicitor.
The schools then hired Cusack in fall 2011 to replace a retiring "supervisory aide" in the high school, Stanton said. In the hourly security position, Cusack "acted as a presence" in hallways and throughout the school. He was employed under contract from Jan. 3 through June 30. His contract was not renewed because the position was eliminated, Stanton said.
Cusack has three daughters and had been separated from his wife at the time of his arrest.
Second-degree sexual contact encompasses sexual contact with a victim at least 13 but less than 16 years old (with a suspect at least four years older than the victim) or with a victim at least 16 but less than 18 years old and the suspect has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim. Sexual contact means, at minimum, the intentional touching of intimate parts for sexual gratification.
Second-degree offenses are subject to sentences of five to 10 years in state prison.
A news release from Cape May County Prosecutor Robert Taylor indicated that the alleged victim is between the ages of 16 and 18 but included little other detail.
The case will be investigated by the prosecutor's Major Crimes Unit because of Cusack's employment with Ocean City, Taylor said.
A call to Cusack's cell phone is answered by a message that says the number has been changed or is out of service.
The beach fee staff was advised of the situation at group meetings on Sunday morning.
“I don’t have the words to express my outrage over this matter," Mayor Jay Gillian said. "My primary concern is the safety and well-being of our team members. I have directed my staff to make certain that these young people know they have our support in every regard in the days ahead.”
The city has arranged for counseling to be made available to any member of the beach fee staff who requests it.
David Elliott will manage the beach tag program for the remainder of the season, according to Ocean City Business Administrator Mike Dattilo. Elliott has worked at all levels of the program beginning as a beach tag inspector eight summers ago. He is an Ocean City resident.
Update: As of Wednesday, Aug. 8, the Cape May County Superior Court Criminal Division said no attorney has entered an appearance on behalf of Cusack, and no arraignment is scheduled. The case is still in the complaint stage.