TRENTON -- A corrections officer accused of sexually abusing an inmate at New Jersey's only women's prison has pleaded guilty to official misconduct, authorities said Friday.
Thomas Seguine, 34, was one of four officers at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women indicted last month on charges of official misconduct and sexual assault.
Under a plea deal, Seguine pleaded guilty to the second-degree misconduct charge and is barred from public employment, according to Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony Kearns.
According to a copy of the indictment, Seguine was accused of having sex with an inmate, identified only as "J. Doe," which is considered sexual assault under state law.
Seguine, of Phillipsburg, is scheduled for sentencing on April 21. His attorney could not be reached for comment.
Locked up, fighting back
Three other former corrections officers -- Brian Ambroise, 33, Jason Mays, 43, and Ahnwar Dixon, 38 -- were arraigned last week, authorities said.
The prosecutor's office is now working with internal investigators at the prison after a spike in allegations against staff last year.
An NJ Advance Media investigation published in January found a history of abuse claims at the Clinton facility, including a 2010 case in which an officer was fired after internal investigators found more than a dozen women said they were victims of his abuse.
That officer, Erick Melgar, has denied any wrongdoing and was never criminally charged. But a civil lawsuit filed against him by six inmates is scheduled to go to trial in March, and the prosecutor's office may be reviewing the case as part of their ongoing investigation.
Experts also told NJ Advance Media that state Department of Corrections data showing few substantiated claims of abuse in recent years suggests New Jersey is underreporting abuse behind bars.
State lawmakers have called on the Attorney General's Office to step in and investigate conditions at the women's prison.S.P. Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
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