Cusack

Former Ocean City beach supervisor Charles Cusack, right, leaves court after sentencing Thursday for misconduct. Cusack admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old beach-badge checker he supervised.

Staff photo by Michael Miller

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – A former Ocean City beach supervisor avoided jail Thursday after pleading guilty to fourth-degree sexual contact for having sex with a 17-year-old beach-tag checker he supervised.

Charles Cusack, a retired Ocean City police officer, received probation and will have to register as a sex offender.

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Cusack, 52, of Egg Harbor Township, was arrested in 2012 while he was a supervisor of the city’s beach-tag checkers, who are responsible for helping the city collect more than $2 million per year in beach fees.

Cusack through his attorney, Louis Barbone, on Thursday told the court that his actions cost him his reputation, his job and his family, who won’t talk to him.

“He stands here full of remorse,” Barbone said.

The last three years have been humiliating, Cusack then told state Superior Court Judge John Porto.

Cusack apologized publicly to the victim and her family. And he apologized to his co-workers in Ocean City, his friends in the Police Department and the city residents he served for more than 25 years. He then apologized to his own family and friends.

Cusack said he began seeking therapy after he and his wife of 26 years separated in 2011.

“In 2012 I made a bad decision to engage in the behavior that landed me here,” he said.

In a civil lawsuit filed against Cusack, the victim said she had sex with Cusack at his home and in the city’s beach-tag office.

The victim, identified only by initials because of her age, told the court Thursday that she faced bouts of depression and a senior year of bullying from classmates because of her experiences with Cusack.

“I feel trapped in a life I never wanted for myself,” she told the court.

Her father also submitted testimony through Assistant Cape May County Prosecutor Dara Paley, urging the court to register Cusack as a sex offender to prevent other families from facing similar trauma.

“I am not a predator of children,” Cusack told the court. “My actions have caused a great divide in my family. My children have not spoken to me. Some siblings and extended family members continue to ignore me.”

In a pending civil lawsuit filed against Cusack, the victim said she had sex with Cusack at his home and in the city’s beach-tag office.

The victim, identified only by initials because of her age, told the court Thursday that she faced bouts of depression and a senior year of bullying from classmates because of her experiences with Cusack.

“I feel trapped in a life I never wanted for myself,” she told the court.

Her father also submitted testimony, urging the court to register Cusack as a sex offender to prevent other families from facing similar trauma.

“I am not a predator of children,” Cusack told the court. “My actions have caused a great divide in my family. My children have not spoken to me. Some siblings and extended family members continue to ignore me.”

 The legal age of consent in New Jersey is 16 unless the other person is a parent, guardian or supervisor of the minor.

Porto could have sentenced Cusack to as much as 5 years in prison. But the judge said a prison sentence was not appropriate since this was Cusack’s first offense.

“This is a person with a 25-year law-enforcement career who has otherwise led a very merit-full life,” Porto said.

Atlantic City police officer John Russell testified as a character witness, calling Cusack “the best kind of cop.”

“Not politically connected, tough when he had to be, compassionate and caring always,” Russell said. “The kind of guy you hope shows up when you have to call the police for help.”

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