No criminal charges ever came from the allegation.
The allegation surfaced after the woman filed for accidental disability retirement benefits in 2011, saying mental health experts had determined the alleged incident two years prior had left her unfit for duty. She was denied benefits by the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System and then by an administrative law judge. She then fought unsuccessfully to reverse those decisions in appellate court.
The courts did not take up the merits of the woman’s allegation against Weber. Rather, they affirmed the pension board’s denial of her accidental disability benefits because the alleged assault did not occur during her “regular and assigned job duties.”
Weber, 36, is a political neophyte and a native of Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood who runs a local civic association. He became a police officer at age 18 and retired in 2015 after 11 years on the force due to an on-duty injury, according to his online bio on his civic association’s website. The extent of his injury was not immediately clear. He is also a former mixed martial arts fighter who competed in four bouts after his retirement from the force, according to an online database.
Weber did not respond to phone calls to his campaign and an email to his civic association seeking comment. Baraka’s campaign also did not respond to a request for comment.
In an April 20 Facebook Live interview, Weber responded to the allegation after a viewer submitted a question.
“As for as the allegation of sexual assault, it’s just that. It’s an allegation. I was in an intimate relationship with someone, and it was terminated. And over a year later an allegation was made. And because it involved two police officers, it had to go to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office,” Weber said. “They never brought charges against me. And in fact, the other officer was terminated and lost their pension.”
State pension records show that Weber’s accuser retired on “ordinary disability” in 2011 and receives a $3,200 monthly pension.
Weber’s history as a police officer has come up in the campaign. During a five-year period from 2012 to 2016, Weber used force more times than any other Newark police officer, according to NJ Advance Media. Baraka, whose imprimatur gives Weber an advantage over his three East Ward opponents, is one of the state’s most high-profile champions of police reform — including arming civilian complaint review boards with subpoena power to investigate police.
Weber’s campaign manager, Deidre Knight, dismissed the use of force data, telling NJ Advance Media it “compared apples to oranges” by failing to account for officers’ varying assignments, which can influence how often they use force.
The alleged sexual assault victim had a “close familial-like relationship” with Weber, whom she considered “like a brother to her,” according to the appellate brief written by her attorney. The two attended the same gym where they practiced jiu-jitsu.
The alleged assault happened in August 2009, according to the brief, when the woman drove her patrol car to Weber’s apartment in Newark during a lunch break so she could return his jiu-jitsu pants he had ripped at the gym and that she had offered to mend.
The woman planned to have Weber meet her at her car to pick up the pants, according to the brief, but Weber insisted on showing her his new apartment. Once inside, Weber allegedly directed her to the bedroom to show her new muay thai pants he had purchased. Muay thai is a martial art and combat sport.
“And then he pretty much turns me and grabs my hair and starts forcing himself on me. And then I said ‘You need to stop, stop,’ you know. So he grabs me. He starts kissing me. I’m trying to push him. You know, at this moment, I don’t know how to react,” the woman testified during a 2013 administrative law hearing, according to the brief. “He’s telling me, ‘Kiss me, kiss me.’ And I said, ‘No.’ So he takes down his pants or whatever he did. And he starts masturbating in front of me and while he’s holding my hair. And then after he does whatever he does, he, you know, let’s go of my hair. And I just run out of the apartment and I just took off.”
The woman also alleges that, a few weeks prior, Weber had exposed himself to her while driving her to her car at the end of her shift and requested that she perform oral sex on him, which she refused. She “did not report the incident because of their friendship,” the brief states. She also claims Weber, who she said was “quite intoxicated,” apologized to her the next day.
The woman said she almost returned to work and kept the incident to herself for about a year, until she checked herself into Mountainside Medical Center’s psych unit for 10 days because “she was not eating or sleeping” and “felt like she wanted to die,” according to the brief, which states her husband at that time contacted the Newark Police Department about the incident and that “the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office was notified.”
The woman was prescribed medications and continued outpatient treatment for four months after her hospitalization, according to the brief, and was found by the Institute for Forensic Psychology, which conducts psychological evaluations for police departments, to be unfit for duty because of the “traumatic incident.”
The reason for the long delay in reporting the incident, according to the brief, was because of the “shock and humiliation she felt because she believed the incident with Officer Weber was her fault.”
“She also believed that she should have reacted differently to the situation given her training as a police officer,” the brief states. “Lastly, [she] was concerned that no one would believe her, and she had a lot to lose if she was found to have made false allegations against a fellow officer.”
Spokespersons for the Newark Police Department and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment.