TRENTON - Seven state troopers have been suspended with pay as authorities investigate a woman's claims that one or more off-duty troopers participated in sexually assaulting her, officials said yesterday.
The 25-year-old woman says she was assaulted by a group of men at a home in Ewing Township early Friday, said Capt. Al Della Fave, a state police spokesman. No charges have been filed.
The investigation is "in the very early stages," Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said.
The woman was treated at a hospital, Onofri said.
State police had said earlier that six troopers were suspended. Della Fave said later that a seventh was also suspended but would not elaborate.
The suspensions are unusual because the troopers have not been charged, Della Fave said. Troopers normally are suspended without pay after being charged but were suspended with pay in this case because of its high-profile nature and its seriousness, he said.
Gov. Jon Corzine confirmed the inquiry but declined to comment in detail.
"Like everyone, if the allegations were true, you'd be deeply disturbed," he said.
Onofri said his office is investigating the woman's claims that she was assaulted by a group of men that included one or more off-duty troopers at a home in Ewing Township early last Friday.
No charges have been filed, he said.
The names of the troopers accused of the assault have not been made public.
Richard Loccke, the lawyer for the troopers union, would not comment yesterday.
The state police took the unusual step of suspending the troopers absent of formal charges because of the case's high profile and the potential seriousness of the allegations, Della Fave said. Normal state police procedure is to suspend troopers without pay after formal charges have been filed, he said.
The Star-Ledger of Newark, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, said the woman is a student at Rider University, though a school spokesman said he could not confirm it yesterday because the woman's name had not been released.
The woman was treated at a local hospital after the incident, Onofri said.
An official who is familiar with the investigation said the woman met the troopers at the Kat Man Du bar in Trenton on Thursday night.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the probe.
WCBS-TV quoted unnamed sources as saying the woman told authorities she and a friend met the officers - including a detective and an academy instructor - at the bar. They later went to the home of one of the troopers, and fell asleep before the alleged attack occurred, WABC-TV in Philadelphia reported, citing unnamed sources.
Joe Surdo, marketing director for Kat Man Du, would not comment yesterday afternoon on any aspect of the alleged incident.
Della Fave said the State Police are fully cooperating with the investigation.
"Once we were made aware of the allegation, aggressive steps were taken to ensure full and complete cooperation with the investigation," he said. *