Pathfinder Leader Accused of Sexually Abusing Children for Years at Adventist Church in Connecticut, U.S.
- Jean Bernard, a member of Mont des Oliviers Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S., is accused of sexually assaulting at least two boys for years, beginning the abuse when they were only 6-years-old.
- The alleged abuse took place in areas without security cameras while the rest of the congregation was in the sanctuary.
- Police said there are more possible victims. One anonymous church member said there were previous complaints about Bernard to the church board but nothing was ever done.
17 March 2022 | Jean Bernard, 44, a member of Mont des Oliviers Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S., is accused of sexually abusing at least two children at the church, reported News 12 Connecticut.
Police arrested Bernard on Feb. 8, 2022, on two counts of first-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to a minor and one count of tampering with a witness.
Police said they began investigating Bernard in January 2022 after the Special Victims Unit received numerous complaints that he was involved in inappropriate contact with children.
Bernard’s warrants detailed graphic allegations from two victims. One victim, a 10-year-old boy, told police Bernard had been sexually assaulting him every other week at the church since he was six or seven years old. The alleged abuse took place in the men’s bathroom and other areas without cameras while the rest of the congregation was in the sanctuary.
The second victim, who is now 18, told police Bernard started sexually abusing him in 2010 when he was about six and continued until 2019 when the victim was 16.
At the time of the assaults, Bernard served as a caretaker at Mont Des Oliviers Seventh-day Adventist Church and had keys to the building and maintained the security cameras at the church. Bernard also served as a youth leader, working closely with children as a part of the Pathfinder Club, according to the warrant for his arrest, reported news site The Norwalk Hour.
During Bernard’s arraignment on Feb. 9, 2022, Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Manning told the court that when Bernard learned he was under investigation, he contacted the second victim and told him not to speak with police, according to News 12.
Manning said police are still involved in a “significant,” ongoing investigation into Bernard. The warrants for Bernard’s arrest also mention two other possible victims in the case.
Bernard’s attorney Howard Ehring later indicated he believes his client could be facing more charges in the future, reported The Hour. “I suspect other warrants may be coming down,” Ehring said during the arraignment.
One church member told News 12, “There are more kids in there that have been molested by this man.”
The church member, who asked to remain anonymous, alleged there were previous complaints about Bernard to the church board but nothing was ever done.
“I’m so disturbed by the whole thing,” she said. “I want the public to know that regardless of religion or regardless of race, that these children should’ve been protected. Our job as church members is not to hide behind the image of our church. That’s not important right now. It’s these children.”
In Bernard’s warrant, church leaders told police Bernard is not allowed at the church until he’s cleared of the allegations.
Judge Kevin Randolph raised Bernard’s bond to $700,000 — a higher bond than was asked for by the state and the defense.
Police encourage anyone with additional information to contact Sgt. Nate Paulino by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 203-854-3163 or Sgt. David Orr by email at email@example.com or by phone at 203-854-3008, of the Norwalk Police Department Special Victims Unit.
(Photo: Jean Bernard, a member of Mont des Oliviers Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S., is accused of sexually abusing at least two children at the church, in areas without security cameras, while the rest of the congregation was in the sanctuary. Photo via the Mont des Oliviers Seventh-day Adventist Church Facebook page.)