LONG BRANCH — A police officer who improperly touched a woman's buttocks during a private party held to celebrate police promotions has been sentenced to probation.

Patrick Joyce had pleaded guilty in April to a disorderly persons offense of offensive touching. He agreed to resign from the Long Branch police force as part of a deal with Monmouth County prosecutors.

The 35-year-old West Long Branch resident admitted touching the 21-year-old victim, though he said he had so much to drink that night that he couldn't remember what happened. The plea deal was contingent upon Joyce completing an outpatient alcohol rehabilitation program.

Joyce had served with the Long Branch police force since 2006. He had been suspended without pay when the improper touching allegation was made.

The sentence was handed down Friday.

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