BRIGANTINE - An Atlantic County police officer has pleaded guilty to using his job on the police department to sexually assault a 16-year-old girl, authorities said.

Judge's gavel (Kuzma, ThinkStock)
Judge's gavel (Kuzma, ThinkStock)

Police Officer Ralph M. Pereira, 45, of Brigantine was arrested on May 19, 2014 and charged with official misconduct, two counts of sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal sexual contact, according to Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain.

Authorities say Pereira used his official position as a police officer to "obtain a benefit for himself, specifically sexual acts with a child." The acts committed against the teenage girl took place while the officer was "performing his official duties."

Among the charges, authorities say Pereira took photographs of the 16-year-old engaging "in a prohibited sexual act or simulation." The officer was found to be in possession of  nude video and photographs of the victim, the prosecutor said.

Pereira was transported to the Atlantic County Justice Facility and released the following day after posting $100,000 cash bail, set by Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Donna M. Taylor, authorities said.
On Aug. 25, 2015, Pereira was indicted by the Atlantic County Grand Jury on 17 criminal counts including 8 counts of official misconduct. According to the prosecutor, he was also indicted on two counts each of sexual assault and criminal sexual contact as well as four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

According to a plea agreement, Pereira will serve five years in state prison on the official misconduct charges as well as five additional years for the sexual assault count. Upon his release, the former officer will be subject to parole supervision for life and will have to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law.

Pereira's sentencing is scheduled for July 1 in Atlantic County Superior Court.

Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM