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Former Jersey Shore cop sentenced for sexually assaulting teen

A 46-year-old former Brigantine police officer who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a teenage girl was sentenced last week to at least five years in state prison, according to Atlantic County prosecutors.

Ralph M. Pereira, 46, was arrested in 2014 and charged with assaulting a 16-year-old girl while on duty. According to court documents, he used his job as a police officer "to obtain a benefit for himself, specifically sexual acts with a child."

Pereira, of the 5000 block of Ontario Avenue in Brigantine, pleaded guilty in May to official misconduct and sexual assault.

At his sentencing Friday, Assistant Prosecutor John Flammer called the crime a "breach of the public trust." He added: "There needs to be a message sent that there are severe consequences for a public servant who engages in these actions."

Superior Court Judge Patricia Wild said Pereira will not be eligible for parole until after serving two years of his sentence.

After he is released, Pereira will be subject to parole supervision for the rest of his life and will have to register as a sex offender.