A long-serving Essex County Sheriff’s Officer from Wayne was charged Thursday with sexually abusing a juvenile girl and family friend, authorities said.
Thomas Ingham, 48, an Essex County sheriff’s officer, was charged with one count of sexual asault and the alleged touching of a child under the age of 13, and one count of criminal sexual contact against a young girl who was a family friend, said Chris Freid, assistant prosecutor for the Special Victims Unit of the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office.
Ingham was also charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and lewdness, against both victims who were between the ages of 8 and 14 when the alleged abuse occurred, Freid said.
Ingham, who has been with the sheriff's office for nearly 25 years, has been suspended without pay, according to a spokesman for the sheriff's office.
The girls reported the allegations to Wayne Police July 19. Police informed the prosecutor office's Special Victims Unit of the allegations.
On the most serious charge, sexual assault, Ingham faces up to 10 years in state prison, Freid said. He will be required to serve 85 percent of the sentence for that charge before being eligible for parole.
"He's been with us for just under 24 years. Our internal affairs unit worked with the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office throughout the investigation," said Kevin Lynch, a spokesman for the Essex County Sheriff's Office. "He was immediately suspended without pay."