Facebook Chat Leads To Sexual Assault

Suspect Joseph Barden (Photo courtesy Ocean County Prosecutor's Office)

STAFFORD – Police are urging parents to monitor their children’s online activity after charging a Bayville man with the sexual assault of a 12-year old girl in Stafford Township.

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato and Stafford Township Police Chief Thomas Dellane announced that 19-year old Joseph Barden of Bayville has been arrested on charges of Aggravated Sexual Assault, Sexual Assault, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

The investigation into the matter began on Jan. 19 when reports were made to the Stafford Township police that the 12-year old girl was assaulted. The investigation found that Barden and the girl had a correspondence via cell phone and Facebook over the course of a few weeks, where they would chat and exchange photos. Barden then visited the girl’s home in Stafford, climbed through her window, and allegedly sexually assaulted her on Jan. 19.

The arrest was made by Stafford Township Police Det. Levi McVey and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Special Victims Unit Det. Stephanie Bayha on Jan. 20. OCPO High Tech Crime Unit Det. Raymond Coles and Ocean County Sheriff’s CSI Det. Stephen Capoano also assisted with the investigation. Senior Assistant Prosecutor Christine Lento approved the complaints after reviewing the case.

Barden has since been transported to the Ocean County Jail where he will be detained pending a court appearance.