May 29, 2005

Woman accused in church abuse case beaten in jail

The Times-Picayune

5/28/2005, 10:45 p.m. CT
The Associated Press

HAMMOND, La. (AP) A woman accused of being part of a group that allegedly abused children and animals within the walls of a now-defunct Ponchatoula church was beaten by other female inmates at the Tangipahoa Parish jail, sheriff's deputies said.

Nicole Bernard, who recently was returned from Ohio to face an aggravated rape charge, was placed in a cell by herself after the Friday night attack.

Chief Deputy Dennis Pevey said several female prisoners apparently were angry at Bernard because of her alleged involvement in the abuse of children.

"It's hard to keep them separated and the other inmates they kind of retaliated," Pevey said. "It's like that's the only offense that somebody can do where known criminals in jail have a problem with. It's OK to be a thief or a burglar, but if you commit a crime against children and (other inmates) say, 'Hey you crossed the line.'"

Prison officials said they would do what they can to keep all the suspects in the case safe. Six of eight suspects are in the parish jail and two others are in the Livingston Parish jail.

Posted by kshaw at May 29, 2005 09:30 AM