LONG BRANCH — An township police officer has been charged with molesting a woman at a party celebrating promotions in the police department.

The charges against Officer Patrick D. Joyce Jr., 35, of West Long Branch, were announced Friday by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

Police Chief Jason Roebuck confirmed earlier in the week to New Jersey 101.5 that Joyce had been suspended following the Feb. 1 incident at Jack's Goal Line Stand.

Investigators say that at the private party, he "inappropriately touched a 21-year-old woman without her consent for his own sexual arousal or gratification."

He was charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual contact and the petty disorderly persons offense of harassment. The most serious offense carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison, but fourth-degree charges usually do not result in incarceration.

This is not Joyce's first time on the wrong side of the law.

The Asbury Park Press reported that Joyce served a year on probation in 2011, and was suspended from the force the year, after he punched a man outside a nightclub while he was off duty.

According to a 2013 post on the department Facebook page, Joyce received a Valor Award from the 200 Club, an organization that supports the families of fallen police officers.

Joyce has worked almost 13 years as a cop and earns a base salary of nearly $121,000.

Joyce's attorney, Robert Norton, did not immediately return a request for comment Friday night.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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