BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa. – (WTAJ) A Wilkes-Barre man is in Bedford County Jail after police said DNA tied him to a 2005 rape case.
Naeem Yusef Bernard, 39, is facing multiple felony charges, including rape, rape of a child, and aggravated indecent assault in the 2005 sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl.
According to the charges, the girl reported the sexual assault immediately after it happened on Aug. 10, 2005. Bedford Borough police were told the suspect’s name was “Uself Bernard,” who went by the nickname “Half-pint.”
Evidence was collected from the scene and from the girl at the hospital, where she was taken after the incident. In 2005, police were not able to locate any “Uself Bernard.” In 2020, the victim called Bedford Borough police to check on the status of her case.
Police reopened the case and pulled information from the original report in a fresh attempt to find the man.
The investigation led to Naeem Yusef Bernard, now 39 years old and living in Wilkes-Barre as a registered sex offender.
Chief of Bedford police, Craig Bowman, recalls finding an online article from a local newspaper detailing Bernard’s arrest in March 2018 for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl while she slept.
“Based on the information that was in the article, I assumed that he would be registered with Megan’s Law and assumed that his DNA would be on file,” Bowman said. “This prompted us to call the DNA lab to confirm that his DNA profile was in fact on file.”
Since Bernard was a Tier 2 registered sex offender, he would have had to supply his DNA to enter into the national database CODIS.
Hair collected as evidence in 2005 hadn’t come up with a hit because it only produced a partial and incomplete profile. A lab requested police to send blood and sexual assault kit evidence and resubmit the hair. That would then undergo analysis with “newer technology and methods than that existed in 2005,” Bedford police noted in the charges.
That analysis then came back with enough probable cause to get a DNA swab from Bernard, who was then charged in March. On the Megan’s Law website, Bernard was listed as non-compliant and last checked in with state police in June 2020.
“You know DNA technology in of itself is a huge advantage to properly identifying the suspects,” Bowman said. “As time moves forward, the technology improves, so I think to have that technology for law enforcement is a huge asset.”
Blair County District Attorney Peter Weeks says that the technology advancements provide a better resource to law enforcement and a greater safety measure to the community.
“I think it’s not only a good investigative tool,” Weeks said. “But it’s a community safety issue as well, especially in crimes of physical and sexual assault.”
At his arraignment Monday, bail was set at $75,000 cash, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 3.
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