NEW JERSEY -- A New Jersey firefighter who claims her fire academy instructor raped, bound, beat, burned and tortured her spoke publicly Friday for the first time.
The identity of sexual assault victims is typically protected, but 25-year-old Ashley Stanfield said she felt compelled to come forward. Rape charges have not been filed.
"Not a day goes by that I don’t suffer from the anguish that this attack has caused me," she told reporters, after recounting the day of her alleged attack in graphic detail.
On Sept. 26, 2018, Stanfield said she intended to briefly stop by her academy instructor's home in Forked River. Stanfield joined the Ocean County Fire Academy after her home burned down.
"I never knew it would lead me to meet John Syers, a person more dangerous than any fire I would fight," she said.
John Syers was a volunteer instructor.
She claims Syers gave her a tour that ended in his bedroom. There, she says Syers brutalized her for over 40 minutes. After seeking medical attention, she went to police.
About a month later, she said the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office declined to charge Syers.
Syers was barred from volunteering in Ocean County, but he continues to work as a paid fireman in the city of Elizabeth.
Syers' attorneys say he is innocent.
"She was married. At the time of her marriage, she had an affair with my client. They had a sexual relationship," said civil defense attorney Richard Lomourro.
Stanfield admits they had a brief consensual relationship, but she claims it ended long before the attack.
She filed a complaint for lewdness and assault against Syers in municipal court.
And last week, filed a federal civil suit against him and Ocean County.
"She has braved what I believe to be one of the most horrific sexual assaults and tortures that I have seen in almost 25 years in the practice of law," said her attorney, Robert Fuggi Jr.
Stanfield has also asked the State Attorney General's Office to open an investigation into these allegations.
Syers' attorneys said he will continue to cooperate with law enforcement.
"We look forward to this case being heard where it belongs. In the court room," Lomurro said.