Hope teenager charged with sexual assault

By Juliette Laaka | May 28, 2014
Photo by: Knox County Jail Josiah Bernardo.

Rockland — Bail was set at $10,000 cash May 28 for an 18-year-old Hope man charged with gross sexual assault for a sexual encounter he had with a 13-year-old female victim.

Josiah Bernardo did not enter a plea at his arraignment in Sixth District Court as he is facing a felony charge. He was arrested May 23 and the crime is reported to have occurred in April.

According to the affidavit filed in court, the sexual act was consensual, in respect to the fact there was no physical force involved. The victim told police she and Bernardo had intercourse and also disclosed she had drunk alcohol during that time.

The victim told police she and Bernardo never discussed her age or where she attended school, said the affidavit.

The age of consent in Maine is 16. If an individual is less than age 16, the partner cannot lawfully be more than five years older and engage in a sexual relationship under state statue, said Rockland Police Department Det. Chris Young.

Police obtained Facebook messages of correspondence between Bernardo and others, where he referenced the victim's age and that they had a sexual relationship, said court papers. Although he acknowledged her age as 14 in some messages, he also said the victim could pass for 16 or 17, said the affidavit.

When the victim's father learned of the assault, he took his daughter to the hospital and contacted police to investigate the case.

Bernardo will appear in court again for a status conference in July.

Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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