APPELLATE COURT REVERSES DECISION TO RELEASE BERGEN COUNTY MAN CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT OF 14-YEAR-OLD GIRL

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On Wednesday, October 16, 2019, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey reversed the decision of the Trial Court and ordered defendant Wilfredo Hernandez detained pending the resolution of the charges against him.

On Sunday, September 29, 2019, a sexual assault was reported to the Union City Police by the mother of a 14-year-old female after her daughter allegedly met an unknown male at a church festival in Union City. The two exchanged phone numbers and later that evening, the man enticed the juvenile to meet him again. After meeting, they entered a nearby building on 14th Street where the alleged assault occurred.

The male, later identified as Wilfredo Hernandez, age 48, of Ridgefield Park, was arrested by members of the Special Victims Unit at approximately 3 a.m. on September 30, 2019, at the Union City Police Department.

Hernandez was charged with Sexual Assault, a second-degree crime; Luring and Enticing a Child, a second-degree crime; Criminal Sexual Contact, a fourth-degree crime; and Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a third-degree crime.

Hernandez was transported to the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny pending his first appearance. The Prosecutor’s Office filed a motion for pretrial detention of the defendant and a hearing on the motion was held on October 3, 2019.

At the hearing, the State argued for detention of the defendant and the Defense argued for the release of the defendant. The Hudson County Superior Court, Criminal Part ordered the defendant to be released on level three plus monitoring which included home detention, no contact with the alleged victim and no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18. He was to reside at the home of a friend in Union City.

On October 4, 2019, the Appellate Division granted the State’s application for emergent review of the Trial Court’s order and established an expedited schedule to review the matter.

The Appellate Division found that the defendant had inappropriate living arrangements, did not have any close ties to the community and lacked stable employment. Therefore, the conditions of his release were inadequate to ensure the safety of the community.

Hernandez is currently in custody.

The above charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. R.P.C.3.6(b)(6).