A Wayne man was charged with aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child for alleged sexual contact with a 13-year-old boy in 2000, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes and Sheriff Richard Berdnik announced Wednesday.
The now-26-year-old victim told authorities that James Perna, 53, committed sexual acts on him throughout a period of eight weeks from June to August 2000 while he was employed at Perna’s health food store in Totowa, authorities said. The sex acts sometimes occurred in the store, authorities said.
The prosecutor’s office said in a statement: “Although Perna’s arrest was based upon the complaint of a single victim, the evidence suggests that there may be additional victims who are reluctant to come forward.”
Perna was employed as a Special Deputy Sheriff and was a provisional security guard in the Passaic County Courthouse in Paterson. Perna was arrested on Wednesday.
The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit conducted the investigation with assistance from the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office.
Superior Court Judge Greta Good Brown has set Perna’s bail at $300,000. Perna is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, Feb. 19.
If convicted, Perna could serve a maximum term of 30 years, 20 for aggravated sexual assault and 10 for endangering the welfare of a child.
Anyone with information about the investigation should contact Detective Lt. Steve Batte at 862-236-0436.