A Passaic County man and a companion attempted to bribe a sexual assault victim and witness with money, tuition aid – even a car – to change their story, authorities said.
Sergio Bernal, 33, from Passaic was initially charged with sexual assault on the underage victim at various residences in Passaic from October 2013 to August 2020, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said Thursday.
A judge has ordered that he remain in custody at Passaic County Jail pending trial.
Bernal and Maricella Gonzalez, 52, of Garfield then attempted to get the victim and witness to reconsider their statements to detectives by offering “a sum in US currency and financial assistance with school fees and a car”, said the prosecutor.
A Paterson grand jury charged Bernal with 14 counts of sexual assault involving a minor and seven child endangering offenses, as well as obstruction of apprehension and terrorist threats, Valdes said.
Bernal also violated a judge’s order not to have contact with the victim, for which he was also charged.
Bernal and Gonzalez have both been charged with witness tampering, evidence tampering, conspiracy to commit witness tampering and conspiracy to bribe, the prosecutor said.
Gonzalez, like Bernal, was being held in the county dungeon.
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