LARNED — The Pawnee County Attorney’s Office reported Wednesday that Joshua J. Bernal, 33, of Larned, appeared on bond in the Pawnee County District Court that morning for an evidentiary preliminary hearing on one count of aggravated indecent liberties, specifying lewd fondling of a child under the age of 14.
Pawnee County Attorney Douglas McNett noted that the incident was reported to the Larned Police Department on Aug. 29, 2022, and was additionally investigated by the Kansas Department of Children and Families. It is alleged to have occurred at a private residence in Larned during the summer of 2022.
Following the presentation of evidence, Magistrate Judge Julie Cowell found the state presented sufficient evidence to support the charge and bound the defendant over to the higher court. Arraignment has been scheduled for March 23.
Based on the age of the alleged victim, if convicted Bernal faces a mandatory 25-year sentence under Jessica’s Law sentencing provisions, McNett noted. He would also be subject to registration as a sex offender under the Kansas Offender Registration Act.
Bernal was arrested on Oct. 14, 2022, without incident. He later posted a $50,000 surety bond and is currently subject to electronic GPS monitoring.