Christine Meale - Victim of Sexual Assault by egg harbor City Police Officers
“It darn near ruined my marriage, embarrassed my family. I have a 7-year-old daughter,” Meale said. “It’s been devastating to my family.”
Christine Meale was pulled over by Detective Hoffman on the evening of January 15th, 2013. Detective Christopher Hoffman conducted an unlawful and intrusive search of Ms. Meale. The search was performed while she was handcuffed and it constituted a sexual assault, involving improper touching inside her blouse, bra, and pants.
Shortly after, Police Officer Steven Hadley arrived on scene in his personal vehicle. Hadley then searched Ms. Meale’s van and purse without her consent and discovered a small bag of marijuana. Detective Hoffman and Police Officer Hadley took Ms. Meale down to the police station, which is where the sexual harassment began.
Once alone Hadley’s office, Ms. Meale began to cry and plead with Hadley not to charge her. He then instructed her to lift up her shirt so he could see her “tits”. Ms. Meale complied because she was intimidated and terrified. Hadley also led Meale to believe all charged would be dropped if she became a confidential informant. Although Officer Hadley eventually let her go, a different officer gave her two tickets and a complaint and summons for court.
Approximately one week later, Meale contacted Hadley on a cell phone number that he provided to her and asked him whether she could still be an “informant” as he promised in exchange for the charges against her being reduced or dropped. Between January 2013 and May 2013, Hadley frequently texted Ms. Meale with sexually explicit language and demanded that she respond in kind and send photos of her exposed breasts and genitalia. He also demanded oral and vaginal sex in many meetings at the Egg Harbor City Police Department and in other locations. Furthermore, Hadley demanded Ms. Meale to use her own money to purchase narcotics for Hadley’s personal use. Ms. Meale feared Hadley and believed she would be sent to prison if she didn’t cooperate.
After months of abuse, Meale because emotionally drained, sleep-deprived, and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She refused to meet Hadley face-to-face and eventually pled guilty to possession of CDS.
On September 24, 2013, Hadley was criminally charged with official misconduct related to his interactions with Ms. Meale. Hadley was also charged with committing the same conduct against three other women, dating back to January 2010. Hadley was accused of using his position as a police officer to have sex with four women while on duty from 2010 through part of 2013. These crimes typically carry a sentence of five to ten years in prison on each count and a fine of as much as $150,000. In November 2014, Hadley pled guilty to only one count of official misconduct and received no prison time.
Meales civil suit is currently pending and alleges violations of Meale’s constitutional and civil rights. It seeks damages for emotional pain and suffering; loss of enjoyment of life; fright, fear, aggravation, humiliation, anxiety and emotional distress; loss of earning capacity; attorney’s fees and punitive damages. She is also seeking the exclusion of Hadley, Hoffman and other officers from jobs in law enforcement.