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Plainfield man indicted in Plainfield and Westfield sexual assaults

Terence Rhue

A Union County grand jury returned a seventeen-count indictment against a man charged in two violent sexual assaults which occurred in both Plainfield and Westfield in October of last year, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel announced Thursday.

Terence Rhue, 23, is charged with three counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, two counts of second-degree sexual assault, three counts of third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact, two counts of third-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes and two counts of fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon as a result of the attacks on a two separate woman.  In addition, Rhue is also charged with one count each of first-degree robbery, second-degree burglary, third-degree terroristic threats, and fourth-degree criminal mischief in connection with the Westfield sexual assault.

On October 4, 2021, at approximately 8:40 p.m., officers from the Plainfield Police Department were alerted that a sexual assault had occurred in the area of Randolph Road in Plainfield. When the officers arrived on scene, they spoke to the female victim who described being forcibly grabbed, punched and then sexually assaulted at knifepoint in the parking lot of an apartment complex after she exited her car, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Caroline Lawlor, who is prosecuting the case.  The suspect then fled the scene.

Then, on October 19th, Westfield Police Department patrol units responded to the area Forest and Longfellow Avenues at approximately 12:50 p.m. in response to a report of a sexual assault by an armed intruder, Lawlor stated.  There, they made contact with the female victim who indicated that she had returned home after being out and upon entering her house, she was confronted by a male with a knife who proceeded to sexually assault her.  The assailant then took a number of valuables from the home before fleeing the scene.

An exhaustive investigation led by the Union County Special Victims Unit, the Plainfield Police Department and the Westfield Police Department and assisted by the Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center (R.O.I.C.), as well as the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Police Departments, resulted in the identification of Rhue as the suspect and led to his eventual capture and arrest two days after the Westfield attack.

“We are grateful for the collaboration with the local and State law enforcement agencies who assisted our Office in quickly locating and apprehending the suspect,” Prosecutor Daniel said.  “Shocking crimes of this nature that strike at the very heart of the safety and security of our Citizens in and around their homes are intolerable and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office will spare no resource or amount of effort in helping these victims achieve justice.”

Rhue is currently being held in the Essex County Jail pending a Post-Indictment Arraignment.

Convictions on first-degree charges can be punishable by a term of between 10 and 20 years in State Prison.  Second-degree charges are commonly punishable by 5 to 10 years.  Third-degree convictions range from 3 to 5 years, and fourth-degree charges can carry up to a term of 18 months.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.