OCEAN CITY — A former teacher at Ocean City High School accused of molesting a student on the last day of school has been sentenced after taking a plea deal.

Ricardo Valle, 35, was sentenced on July 25 to five years in state prison after pleading guilty to a single count of endangering the welfare of a child. Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland said that the educator admitted to "engaging in sexual conduct with a student."

Authorities arrested Valle last year and charged him with two counts of second-degree sexual assault, among other offenses. Since leaving his job at Ocean City High School in July 2016, Valle had moved to Seabrook, Texas, and taken another teaching job at a school in Houston.

According to a criminal complaint, Valle initiated contact with the 17-year-old female student during an overnight class field trip to Washington in March 2016. He was accused of putting his head between her buttocks.

After the trip, the complaint said Valle wrote the student notes excusing her from classes on at least ten occasions. She would go to the choir room where he rubbed her buttocks, played with her bra strap, and put his arm around her, according to the complaint.

On the last day of the school year, Valle told his choir students that he was leaving to pursue a master's degree and asked the victim to stay behind. The complaint said that Valle took off her shirt and forced the student to perform a sex act, but she was able to get away.

As part of the plea agreement, Valle forfeited his teaching certificate. When released from prison, he will have to register under Megan’s Law and have no contact with the student.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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