Teacher, ex-Ocean City, NJ beach patrol member facing sex charges
OCEAN CITY — The Cape May County Prosecutor's Office said an arrest made on Thursday and a concurrent search of the Marmora home of the man charged are the results, so far, of an investigation into allegations made against this Jersey Shore town's beach patrol on social media in the spring of 2021.
Jonathan Howell, 40, was identified in a release from the prosecutor's office as a former member of the Ocean City Beach Patrol and a teacher in the Pleasantville School District.
Howell is charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and official misconduct, and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child.
Authorities did not elaborate Thursday on any specific incidents in which Howell is alleged to have been involved, particularly in view of the ocbp_predators Instagram account that led Mayor Jay Gillian to pledge changes to day-to-day operations on the patrol.
At the time the Instagram page came to the attention of authorities in April 2021, it detailed accusations of adult men "taking advantage" of 16- and 17-year-old female lifeguards, often with drugs, alcohol, or potential sexual activity involved.
Howell has been lodged in the Cape May County Correctional Facility pending court proceedings, according to the prosecutor's office.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with potential information can contact the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office at 609-465-1135, its anonymous tip service, cmcpo.tips, the county sheriff's tip line at cmcsheriff.net, or Cape May County Crime Stoppers at 609-889-3597.