NJ Firefighter Sues Instructor and Fire Academy Over Rape

A county fire academy in New Jersey has been named in a federal lawsuit brought by a female firefighter who claims that an instructor she met while a student, bound, raped and strangled her. The firefighter, identified in the suit only as “A.S.”, accuses instructor John Syers, Jr. of perpetrating the rape in September, 2018.

According to the complaint, AS met Syers while she was attending the Ocean County Fire Academy from August 2017 through January 2018. They had a brief romantic relationship, and she stopped by his house on September 26, 2018, at which time he handcuffed, bound, raped and then strangled her until she was unconscious.

The suit names Syers, the fire academy, Ocean County Fire and First Aid Training Center, Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and several John Doe defendants. The county defendants are accused of sexual discrimination; violating AS’ equal protection rights; negligent hiring; negligent supervision; negligent retention; failure to train, supervise and protect; failure to warn; and vicarious liability.

Syer is accused of assault, battery, torture, sexual assault, aggravated assault, sexual battery, domestic violence, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotion distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress. He is currently facing criminal charges of simple assault, lewdness, and disorderly conduct in municipal court. However, according to NJ.com, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office acknowledged that their investigation is continuing and the possibility exists that the case may be transferred to Superior Court.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

UPDATE: April 29, 2019 – According to NJ.com, John Syers is denying he raped and tortured the woman, claiming they had consensual sex, and that he passed a polygraph examination. More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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