Mistrial declared in case of Fort Worth pastor accused of sexually abusing 2 girls

Courtesy: McClatchy Co.

A mistrial was declared Friday in the case of a pastor who was accused of sexually abusing two girls when he was a preacher at a Fort Worth church.

Two women had made outcries of numerous sexual abuse incidents that they alleged occurred when they were both juveniles living in Hurst between 2007 and 2013, Hurst police said.

They had accused 57-year-old Jose Francisco Bernal, of North Richland Hills, who was arrested and charged in 2017. A Tarrant County grand jury indicted him on Feb. 14, 2019.

But a jury could not reach a decision on Friday in Criminal District Court No. 3 in Fort Worth.

Prosecutors declined to comment.

“Pastor Bernal has denied these allegations from the start,” said Brandon Barnett of Fort Worth, one of Bernal’s attorneys, in a Monday email to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Attorney Cami Gildner of Fort Worth also represented Bernal. “We were thankful to finally be able to present our defense to a Tarrant County jury last week. After hearing the evidence, the jury could not come to a unanimous verdict but leaned toward a verdict of not guilty.”

Barnett said the mistrial came after after over 10 hours of deliberations.

“The state will have the choice to retry the case if it chooses,” Barnett said.

Bernal was charged with two felony counts of continuous sexual assault of a child and he had been released on bail pending the trial.

Police investigators concluded that Bernal met the girls while he was their pastor at the Tabernaculo De Vida Pentecostal Church on West Dickson Street in Fort Worth. He is still pastor at the church, according to its website and Barnett.