Thursday, November 29, 2007

First Witness in Hosanna Case to Take the Stand

Florida parishes bureau
Published: Nov 28, 2007 - UPDATED: 1:25 p.m.

AMITE — Nicole Bernard testified this morning that she discovered her young daughter had been raped by her then-estranged husband when the girl told her about her nightmares.

Bernard, 38, of Ohio, related the scene as the state’s first witness in its aggravated rape case against Austin “Trey” Bernard III, 39, of Hammond, the first of the Hosanna Church sex abuse suspects to go to trial.

He is accused of having oral sex with his then 2-year-old daughter and anal sex with a 12-year-old boy, Assistant District Attorney Don Wall told the jury in his opening statement.

Trey Bernard is one of seven members of the now defunct Ponchatoula church indicted in 2005 for abusing children.

Wall, in his opening statement, told the jury how Bernard’s now ex-wife discovered he was abusing their daughter and two other boys not related to the couple.

Wall said Trey Bernard confessed to raping these children to Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s detectives and FBI agents.

Bernard was indicted with crimes against only his daughter and the 12-year-old boy, not the other boy, who was 16 at the time.

Public Defender Al Bensabat told the jury in his opening statement that the children were coached by Bernard’s ex-wife to ensure she had total custody of their daughter. In fact, Trey Bernard was served with his divorce papers the same day he was arrested by the Sheriff’s Office in May 2005, Bensabat said.

He also told the jury his client is the victim of a witch hunt by authorities who think they have to take him to trial because of the publicity surrounding the case.

Bensabat also told the jury that Trey Bernard will take the stand later in the trial to testify in his own defense.

After an hour and a half of testimony for the prosecution, the court broke for lunch.

The defense is expected to cross-examine Nicole Bernard when court reconvenes after 1:30 p.m.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home