OCEAN CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Authorities in Cape May County, New Jersey, have arrested a former Ocean City Beach Patrol member on sexual assault charges.
Jonathan Howell, 40, of Marmora, was arrested Thursday following a year-long investigation.
The investigation started in April of 2021 when the Instagram account "ocbp_predators" began sharing dozens of anonymous allegations against unnamed members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol.
The creator of the "ocbp_predators" account told Action News last year the account was created after a female lifeguard asked for help.
According to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by Action News, 30 recorded interviews have been conducted to date in connection with the investigation.
SEE ALSO: Authorities investigating sexual harassment allegations involving Ocean City Beach Patrol
In the interviews, claims of sexual harassment, sexual comments, sexual contact, sexual assault, providing alcohol/controlled dangerous substances to minors and failure to properly address complaints were reported, according to authorities.
The affidavit states that Jonathan Howell was repeatedly named throughout this investigation as someone who engaged in this behavior.
Most of the females that came forward were juvenile lifeguards at the time they encountered Howell. His position of senior lifeguard gave him authority over them, authorities said.
In the summer of 2017, investigators allege that Howell provided alcohol to a 16-year-old female and later sexually assaulted her. At the time, Howell was a senior guard who supervised the victim, the affidavit stated.
He has been charged with Sexual Assault, Official Misconduct, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
Howell is no longer a member of the beach patrol but he's currently employed as a teacher within the Pleasantville School District.
Action News has reached out to the school district for comment but we have not heard back.
Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland says this is an on-going investigation and urges anyone who has additional information relating to this investigation to contact the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office at 609-465-1135, or anonymously through the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office Anonymous TIP System by visiting cmcpo.tips