Former Haitian pastor charged with sexual assault of young girl pleads not guilty

Luckner Sylvain, a Haitian church and community leader from Norwich who allegedly fled the country to avoid prosecution, pleaded not guilty today in New London Superior Court to charges that he sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl multiple times in 2006 and 2007.

Sylvain, 49, of 44 South A St., Taftville, has hired Paul Chinigo as his attorney. Theresa Ferryman will prosecute the case, which was continued until May 30.

Sylvain is the co-founder of the Bethany Foundation, a group dedicated to raising funds to help Haitian children affected by the earthquake in January 2010. He was formerly affiliated with the First haitian Baptist Church in Norwich. Editor's note: This updates an earlier version of this article that incorrectly described Sylvain's affiliation with the church.

Norwich police said Sylvain fled Norwich for Haiti on Dec. 4, 2011 after learning the victim had said Sylvain had sexually assaulted her more than 30 times while she and her mother lived with Sylvain and his family in 2006 and 2007. With the assistance of Haitian authorities and the U.S. State Department, Sylvain was captured and transferred to Miami, Fla. He waived extradition and was returned to Connecticut last month to face charges of first-degree sexual assault, fourth-degree sexual assault and two counts of risk of injury to a minor.

Sylvain is being held on $200,000 bond.

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