At its January 11, 2016 meeting, the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) voted to impose a “forfeiture of all salary and service credits” against Hillsdale Borough (Bergen County) police officer “due to the pattern of his egregious misconduct over numerous years.”

According to its meeting minutes, the PFRS Board minutes noted that several Internal Affairs complaints were made between April 5, 2013 and May 28, 2013 against Officer Sean Kavanaugh.  One of the complaints alleged that during 2006, Kavanaugh, while working as the Pascack Valley High School’s School Resource Officer, “cultivat[ed] an intimate relationship with a 17 year old female student and, after the student turned 18, “had sexual intercourse with her [in a police cruiser assigned to him while she was intoxicated] until she became scared and told him to stop.”

In a March 10, 2011 article in Pascack Valley Community Life, Kavanaugh, then 36 and a former teacher at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, was quoted as having said that “he loves being able to interact with the students and, hopefully, steer them down the right path.” 

Kavanaugh was also charged by Internal Affairs with leaving two civilians alone and unsupervised in the police station while he had sex with another civilian, lying about not having a account, falsely claiming to the police chief that he had CML Leukemia, harassing a woman in 2012 to the point of her getting a restraining order against him and allowing underage persons to consume alcohol at police headquarters.

Note: None of the Internal Affairs allegations against Kavanaugh have been proven and the settlement agreement apparently disposed of these allegations before they were adjudicated.  Accordingly, these constitute unproved allegations.

Prior to the completion of the Internal Affairs investigations, Kavanaugh reportedly entered into a settlement agreement with Hillsdale in which he “irrevocably resign[ed] his position as a Police Office for the Borough effective October 1, 2013.”  Update: August 16, 2016.  The settlement agreement provides that Kavanaugh was placed on an unpaid leave of absence in May 2013.

Kavanaugh’s lawyer (referred to only as “Mr. Manetta”) said that Kavanaugh “served the public honorably and well” and that the complained of matters “concern[ed] his personal life and should be kept apart from the his professional life.”  He also said that since “Kavanagh was not charged with a crime, . . . his service should not be considered dishonorable.” 

The PFRS Board rejected both of Manetta’s contentions and noted that Kavanaugh’s having sex in a police cruiser and police station “shows clearly the overlap between Mr. Kavanagh’s personal and professional behavior.”  The Board also noted that “[t]he fact that [Kavanaugh] was not charged criminally is not dispositive because the pattern of his actions over numerous years shows a high degree of moral turpitude that bears directly on his employment as a police officer.”

The Board voted to strip Kavanaugh of all his pension service and held that he is not eligible for ordinary disability retirement benefits.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]