Somerset County Clerk Candidate Maeder Needs to Explain Demanding Rape Victim Return to Workplace She Feared

Manville Democratic Club News

Suzanne Maeder Needs to Explain

By Chris B.
November 2, 2022

If we can't trust Maeder with the big things, how can we trust her with anything?

Manville, NJ - The Borough of Manville has demanded a woman accusing its Chief of Police of raping her for a decade return to work as the Executive Assistant to the acting Chief in the office where she claims she was repeatedly assaulted.1 Republican County Clerk candidate Suzanne Maeder, a member of Manville Council, chairs the personnel committee.

"We've come a long way in this country in how we treat women who report sexual assault," said Somerset County Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson, who is herself a survivor of domestic abuse. "I can't understand why anyone would demand a rape victim return to work at the place she was assaulted, and it's terrible that Manville took this action. As a person who says she's focused on the details, I don't know how Ms. Maeder can avoid responsibility for this travesty."

Ms. Maeder has focused her campaign for County Clerk on being detail-oriented in everything she does, saying in one interview with the Patch, "I'm known in Manville for my attention to detail ... We have a saying in the Maeder house - if I can't trust you with the small things, how can I trust you with the big things?"3

"If she didn't know this woman was being forced back into a workplace she feared, shame on Ms. Maeder for failing in her job as a councilwoman," said Robinson. "If she did know, shame on Ms. Maeder for allowing it to happen in the first place.

"Either way, how can we trust Ms. Maeder on anything if we can’t trust her on the big things?"


Everyone in Somerset County was shocked when the Manville Borough Council voted on February 17, 2022, to suspend Police Chief Thomas Herbst with his full pay of more than $170,000 after his executive assistant filed a lawsuit accusing him of repeatedly sexually assaulting and raping her over a decade.1 Lt. Paul Meixner was also suspended with pay at the February 17, 2022 meeting for allegedly pointing a loaded shotgun at the woman after she had asked him to do some work for her.

Councilwoman Suzanne Maeder, who is chair of the Manville Policy, Planning, and Personnel Committee2, was involved in the decision to hold the emergency meeting and suspend Herbst and Meixner.

In her role overseeing personnel matters for the Council, Ms. Maeder also must have been involved in placing the woman on leave. According to Manville attorney Franklin Whittlesey's statement to the Star-Ledger, this was an agreement he made with the woman and her attorney: "a decision that was made with input from her and her attorneys to give the investigation time to play out,"1 The woman made $65,556 according to the Gannet Data Universe.

Three months later the woman was required to return to her position as assistant to the acting police chief Craig Jeremiah who had been promoted to Lieutenant by Herbst just a year earlier.4

Despite the parties' agreement to let "the investigation ... play out," Manville decided to break the agreement and demand the woman return to her former assignment.

When the woman declined to return to the workplace where she said had been raped for a decade, the Star-Ledger reports the town told her to retire or apply for disability, which was granted on June 13.1

This means that while Herbst and Meixner continue to earn full pay as long as the investigation continues, his alleged victim is seeing her income fall by 20 percent.5 This is despite Manville’s attorney Franklin Whittlesey saying she was placed on leave to aid the investigation.

"After all (she) has been through, the Borough's conduct seemed to be designed to cause her additional emotional distress," said Nicholas P. Milewski who is representing the accuser, in the Star Ledger.1


1 Star Ledger, July 19 2022, and Star Ledger, February 21, 2022

2 Manville Council Minutes, January 6 2022

3 Patch Interview, September 28, 2022


5 NJDoL: Disability Benefits Capped at $52K