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Baton Rouge school board member pleads guilty to misdemeanor

December 24, 2020 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from her 2018 arrest at a party in her neighborhood.

Connie Bernard’s plea earlier this month allows her to avoid a trial that had been set for next month.

Bernard, 59, had been charged with simple battery, and entering and remaining after being forbidden, as a result of a profanity-laced confrontation in August 2018 at a home near her house, The Advocate reported. She was accused of putting her hands to the neck of a young party-goer.

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Bernard, who had pleaded not guilty last year, went to court Dec. 10 with her attorney, John McLindon, and pleaded guilty to the entering and remaining charge, and prosecutors dismissed the battery charge. She had been set for trial Jan. 4.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Wednesday the dismissal was at the request of the victim after many discussions with him and his parents.

“The facts of this case were particularly concerning given the public office that Ms. Bernard holds,” Moore said. “The seriousness of the facts of Ms. Bernard’s case, her criminal history, and ultimately the wishes of the family were all considerations in the resolution of her case.”

State District Judge Ron Johnson put Bernard on unsupervised probation for three months, fined her $300 and ordered her to perform 20 hours of court-approved community service work.

“Connie regrets going into the neighbor’s house, even though it was a teenage party with no adults present,” McLindon said Wednesday. “She realizes now she should have called the police and not try to handle it herself. She has apologized.”

The incident prompted a recall petition, but the effort fell far short of the required 7,600-plus signatures needed to force a recall election.

Bernard was first elected to the board in 2010 and was re-elected to a third term in July 2018, just weeks before the incident at the party.

She has said she will serve out her term, which expires at the end of 2022.