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Alleged sexual abuse at Haitian church prompts education, accountability calls

NEW YORK — A youth leader at a predominately Haitian church in Norwalk, Connecticut faces sexual assault charges after allegedly abusing two children over several years, sometimes while the congregation was in the sanctuary.

Jean Bernard, 44, of Shelton, Connecticut, was arrested Feb. 8 and charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of tampering with a witness and three counts of risking injury to a child. Connecticut court records show he is being held on $700,000 bond and is awaiting a March 14 hearing. 

One member of the Mont des Oliviers Seventh Day Adventist Church in Norwalk, who requested her name not be used because of the sensitivity surrounding the case, said the lack of background checks and education on sexual abuse created an environment of impunity and called on other churches to adopt these measures to ensure accountability.

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