Priest Arrested at Kennedy in Sexual Assault of Girl, 13

By Associated Press
New York Times
November 27, 1994

A Roman Catholic priest wanted in a sexual assault on a 13-year-old New Jersey girl was arrested yesterday as he prepared to board a plane for Haiti, officials said.

The Port Authority police arrested the Rev. Jean Level Eliscard, 28, about 10:40 A.M. at Kennedy International Airport, said Gwen Williams, a Port Authority spokeswoman.

Father Eliscard had a ticket for an American Airlines flight that was leaving at 11:30 A.M., she said.

Police in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, began investigating Father Eliscard on Friday in connection with the assault, said Lieut. Kevin Pollard of the Hamilton police.

Father Eliscard apparently realized he was a suspect and left town, but a tip Saturday morning from a member of his predominantly Haitian parish enabled the police to track him down at the airport, Lieutenant Pollard said.

Msgr. John Dermond, pastor of St. Francis Church in Trenton, received a call that Father Eliscard would be at Kennedy airport and notified the police.

"I guess I feel very sad for the priest," Monsignor Dermond said in a telephone interview from the church. "I presume he's innocent. The accusation is very serious.

"I'm doubly sorry that he didn't stay here to face it," said Monsignor Dermond, who with Father Eliscard is one of four clergymen at the church. "I am cooperating fully not just with the police department, but with the diocese here. We have a response team and a special set of standards for responding to these complaints."

Father Eliscard was charged with aggravated sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child, Lieutenant Pollard said. He said that the incident happened inside the girl's home on Sept. 27.

Under diocesan policy, Father Eliscard will not be allowed to exercise his ministry while the matter is pending, the monsignor said.

Father Eliscard was turned over to the Queens District Attorney's office for arraignment as a fugitive, said Mary de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the office.

An extradition hearing will not be held before Monday, Lieutenant Pollard said. If Father Eliscard waives his right to extradition, authorities can take him into custody immediately. But if he chooses to fight extradition, he will be held in New York pending another court hearing, Ms. de Bourbon said.

Father Eliscard came to the St. Francis parish in late August. He had previously served in Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Canada, the monsignor said.

The charge involving the Haitian teen-ager came to light on Friday, when the girl's father met with Monsignor Dermond, Lieutenant Pollard said. The monsignor, in turn, notified the police.

Father Eliscard was not called in for questioning and no warrant had been issued prior to Saturday morning, the lieutenant said. But Father Eliscard learned about the investigation on Friday afternoon when the monsignor brought it to his attention, the police said. The police realized Father Eliscard had fled when Monsignor Dermond phoned them Saturday morning with the tip.


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