All of the crimes occurred between 2000 and 2007. Two victims who are sisters gave police a statement in April 2008 in which they alleged Melia and Lewis repeatedly forced them to engage in sex acts with them. The statement led to Melia's arrest and immediate suspension without pay from his patrol job.
In his sentencing, Burlington County Superior Court Judge Charles Delehey focused on a 35-minute videotape made in August 2005 of Lewis molesting a girl with sex devices while imploring her to respond. The tape, which prosecutors alleged Melia made, played a key role in the case. It was among 20 such video clips - between 10 seconds and two minutes long - shown to the jury.
Lewis and Melia each received 20 years for aggravated sexual assault and must serve 85 percent of that time before they become eligible for parole. The invasion-of-privacy charge, which resulted from the taping, brought each five more years. Melia received additional time because he was a police officer.
The pair, who declined to address the court Thursday, will be registered as sex offenders. Both plan to appeal their convictions, according to their attorneys.
"The defendants displayed an obsessive, unhealthy, reckless, and indifferent attitude toward their victims," Delehey said. "They sought sexual pleasure for themselves without any sense of responsibility or accountability to the harm inflicted on their victims."
Melia was fired from the Moorestown force on Thursday, and he forfeited his benefits and right to hold public employment, said Stephen Raymond, a township attorney.
The victims testified that Melia's police uniform hung on the back of the door in the bedroom where the abuse occurred, serving as a form intimidation, Assistant Burlington County Prosecutor Kevin Morgan said Thursday.
"Throughout this case, it's always been about [the defendants] and their own sexual gratification," Morgan told the court. "They couldn't care less about the victims that they abused."
Melia's attorney, Mark Catanzaro, and Lewis' public defender, Bonnie Geller-Norman, had argued that the accusers lied. Prosecutors were overzealous because of the case's notoriety and Melia's police connection, they said.
The defendants' attorneys argued Thursday for lesser sentences, with Catanzaro calling the state's recommendation of 52 years "essentially a life sentence."
Lewis is the mother of a 2-year-old and a 14-year-old, and was a law-abiding citizen before her arrest, Geller-Norman said. She also is a victim of sexual abuse, she said.
"It's not an excuse, Your Honor," Geller-Norman said. "It's an explanation."
Delehey rejected that argument.
"Being a victim is not a license to be perpetrator," he said. "These were not acts of revenge or retribution taken by her against her attackers. These were assaults on innocent victims."
Contact Darran Simon at 215-854-2771, email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @darransimon.