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Former Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Nebergall is heading to state prison for three years as a convicted sexual predator over an attack of a woman he met on duty.
Rather than risk a second trial and a much longer sentence, the 42-year-old father of three pleaded guilty last week.
Nebergall had previously insisted he was falsely accused after the incident nearly five years ago, on July 21, 2016, on the grounds of a mobile home park near Greenacres.
The then-26-year-old victim had called 911 for help over a dispute with her landlord, and Nebergall was among three deputies who responded at 5 a.m.
Nebergall returned to her home an hour later, alone, and soon made vulgar remarks, forcibly kissed her lips and a breast, asked for oral sex and tried a sexual act, she testified at a 2018 trial. She said she didn’t try to resist because he kept touching a gun in his waistband during the attack.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel is not identifying the woman because of the nature of the case.
Last year, she sued Nebergall and the Sheriff’s Office over her “emotional distress” and other claims. Lawyers for the agency have asked a judge to dismiss the civil lawsuit, records show.
The victim has said she was hesitant to call law enforcement over her problems as a tenant because she had seen news coverage of young Black people mistreated by those in uniform.
“I feel like I don’t want to be a part of that, so I just stay away from the cops,” she testified.
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On the stand, Nebergall told the jury the woman exposed her breasts, asked to be patted down, and “leaned into my personal space. I pushed her back.”
Prosecutor Marci Rex then slammed Nebergall for putting cops in “a bad light” and asked for the maximum possible punishment of 15 years behind bars. Nebergall was sentenced to eight years, but in late 2019 an appeals court threw out the verdict and punishment over an issue with improper testimony.
With a new trial days away, Nebergall on Thursday reached a plea bargain with the State Attorney’s Office. Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo approved the terms, including convictions for attempted sexual battery while in possession of a weapon, and misdemeanor battery for touching the woman’s breasts.