DUNELLEN, NJ—Christopher Tarver, a 45-year-old Jackson Township resident who once led the Recreation Departments in Dunellen and North Plainfield, faces up to 50 years behind bars after being convicted by a jury on a slew of sex crimes.
Tarver also coached the Middlesex County College basketball team and served as "Executive Director" at the Monmouth Power Sports Club, a traveling basketball team.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO) secured the conviction after a five-week trial before Judge Colleen Flynn, according to a November 15 press release.
Christopher Tarver was found guilty of:
- eight counts of 2nd-degree endangering the welfare of a child
- five counts of 4th-degree criminal sexual contact
- four counts of official misconduct
- second-degree engaging in a pattern of official misconduct
- second-degree sexual assault
- third-degree endangering the welfare of a child by possessing child pornography
Tarver is set to be sentenced in the Middlesex County Courthouse on March 9 by Judge Flynn.
“Frequently, child sexual predators actively seek out positions which allow them access to children, such as coaching. In some cases, sexual predators may change positions frequently to avoid detection," said Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey.
"In order to stop such horrific sexual abuse, it is extremely important that background checks be conducted and detailed questions be asked of prior employers anytime someone is applying for a job which requires interaction with children,” Carey concluded.
The November 15 statement from the MCPO credited Assistant Prosecutor Brian Shevlin with presenting the state's case, which showed Tarver engaged in multiple sex acts with a boy "on various dates between June 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011."
Those crimes took place in Edison and Atlantic City, as well as inside the Dunellen Recreation Center. The victim was reportedly a member of Tarver's traveling Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team, which Tarver had led since 1995.
Tarver was also found in possession of child pornography on April 8, 2014 during the execution of a search warrant, according to the MCPO.
The investigation began after Tarver's victim, now an adult, notified authorities. The MCPO credited Sgt. Frank DiNinno and Sgt. Karleen Duca with making the case against him.
Tarver still faces additional criminal charges in cases involving three other child victims for sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and official misconduct.
Tarver began working as the Dunellen Recreation Director in 2004, a position he held for a decade before being suspended soon after his 2014 arrest.
Longtime Dunellen Mayor Robert Seader, who hired Tarver and also serves on the Middlesex County Ethics Board, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tarver's conviction.
It's not the first time that a Dunellen official has gotten in trouble with the law for child pornography.
As we reported in August 2016, the President of the Board of Education in the small town was charged with second-degree distribution of child pornography and third-degree of possesion of child pornography.
In October 2006, Tarver was hired as a men’s basketball coach for Middlesex County College and was subsequently promoted to head basketball coach in June 2010. He was replaced after his arrest.
"We don't really have anything to say. Really no comment," said Tom Peterson, a spokesperson for the college.