A Newton police officer was caught on videotape unzipping his pants and exposing himself to young men during at least five traffic stops, an arrest affidavit says.
Jason R. Miller, 37, of Hampton, was arrested on allegations that he exposed his genitals to motorists “to satisfy his prurient interests” and then let them leave without issuing traffic summonses, a complaint filed Monday says.
Miller, a police officer since July 2001, turned himself in at the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office Monday and was released on $35,000 bail with a 10 percent option. He is indefinitely suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case.
“The allegations against Jason Miller represent a grave abuse of authority for which there is absolutely zero tolerance,” a press release from the Newton police and prosecutor’s office said.
He was charged with two counts of second-degree official misconduct, one count of third-degree pattern of official misconduct and the disorderly persons offense of lewdness.
Miller’s attorney, Anthony Iacullo, said his client “vehemently denies these allegations.”
“He is an excellent officer and has served Newton for over a decade,” Iacullo said. “When this case is litigated in the court of law, we are confident that he will be exonerated as it relates to all charges.”
The investigation began on Oct. 23 when the Newton Police Department received an anonymous email tip from a man who felt sexually harassed when a Newton police officer allegedly exposed himself during a traffic stop.
After reviewing a videotape of the stop, Newton police and detectives from the prosecutor’s office tracked down the complainant, referred to as A.B., and interviewed him about the incident.
The investigation found the following, according to the arrest affidavit:
• A.B., a 22-year-old man, was driving home from O’Reilly’s Pub around midnight Oct. 23 when he was stopped on Lower Spring Street. The officer took A.B.’s paperwork and went back to his vehicle.
He then returned to A.B.’s vehicle and explained that he was not giving him a ticket. At that time, A.B. noticed the officer’s zipper was down and it appeared as though his genitals were exposed.
A.B. told investigators a friend of his, referred to as K.K., had a similar experience with a Newton officer and gave them K.K.’s name and phone number.
• K.K., a 23-year-old man, told police he was driving his friend home one night when he was stopped on Clinton Street. During the stop, the officer allegedly asked if K.K. noticed the officer’s zipper was down and he answered no.
Once the stop was over, K.K. dropped his friend off at her house and turned onto Water Street.
He then realized the officer was following him again so he drove to Stuart Street and then Diller Avenue. He then crossed onto Sussex Street and as he was about to turn left on Pine Street when the officer pulled up next to him and motioned for him to roll down his window.
K.K. complied and the officer again asked if he noticed that his fly was down. K.K. said no.
The officer then asked if the person he was dropping off was his girlfriend. K.K. said no and told him he has a girlfriend. The officer then told him to have a good night and left the area.
K.K. told investigators he thought the officer was playing “some sick joke” since he never noticed or looked at the officer’s fly.
After finding the first two men, the police reviewed videos and audio recordings of Miller’s traffic stops. According to the arrest affidavit, the following was found:
• J.A., an 18-year-old man, was stopped on Plotts Road on Sept. 2. When the officer approached, J.A. noticed the zipper was down and thought Miller was either exposing himself or wearing pink or flesh-colored underwear.
The officer did not issue a ticket to J.A. even though his registration and insurance were both expired.
J.A. also saw through his rearview mirror the officer zip up his pants at the end of the stop. Video shows Miller attempting to cover his genital area and placing his hand inside the opening as he walks back to his car.
• N.S., a 26-year-old man, was stopped on Aug. 31 at 2:39 a.m. but was not issued a ticket. Video shows the officer’s pants open and his genitals exposed.
• C.S., a 26-year-old man, was stopped on March 18 at 12:58 a.m., for driving 16 mph over the speed limit. C.S. acknowledged coming from a bar and drinking alcohol, but Miller did not issue him summonses or investigate whether C.S. was driving while intoxicated.
The audio recording appears to have the sound of a zipper either opening or closing.
The Newton police and prosecutor’s office are continuing to investigate and review tapes of late night and early morning stops involving Miller and young men.
The two said the investigation was made possible by the witnesses who came “forth despite feelings that there could be potential retaliation” and because of the Newton Police Department’s systems “to encourage community engagement as well as maintaining a culture of accountability and responsiveness to the public.”
The press release said there is no indication that other Newton police officers knew about the misconduct.
Police are asking that persons who experienced similar incidents or who have information about the allegations contact the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office at 973-383-1570.
Miller is scheduled to be in court on Wednesday, Nov. 26.